2008 will see a major change in professional cycling, now that a significant number of races will no longer be part of the ProTour. The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España will be missing from the top-ranked series, and it would seem that other hallowed events such as Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Lombardy will also be on a separate calendar. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to Pat McQuaid about these developments, and discovered that despite the upheaval, the UCI President still remains positive about the future of the series.
This week's announcement that the UCI have accepted the Grand Tour organisers' insistence that they will not be part of the ProTour means a return to uncertainty for many of the big teams. Holding a ProTour licence was seen as a guarantee for them to take part in those major events. Unibet.com was an obvious exception, the team appearing to be excluded by the Grand Tour organisers this year due in part to the ProTour standoff with the UCI, but others benefited by having a licence.
Since the series was introduced in 2005, teams have been paying big money to be part of it. With their guaranteed participation in the major races now no longer assured, it is very possible that some of those squads may be questioning the value of their investment. Yet, rather than being downbeat about the turn of events, UCI President Pat McQuaid has told Cyclingnews there is still plenty of benefit for teams to have a ProTour licence. And, he says, these pluses will become even more clear as time passes.
"There will be certainly an incentive for the teams in the ProTour," he insisted this week. "The system will be one which will be designed and developed to assist the teams and to assist the organisers in growing, in moving forward. That is what it was initially meant to do, to find other sources of funding for the teams and the organisers alike, and also for economies of scale in terms of TV production.
"There are a lot of factors in there, all of which will help them and to benefit the sport. The teams are keen that that should happen."
To read the full ProTour feature, click here.