By Greg Johnson
The question hanging over the fate of cycling's highest echelon has been answered: the UCI ProTour is most likely in its final year. While the 17 ProTour teams announcing they will not re-new their licenses in 2009 effectively kills off the ProTour concept, it leaves those within the sport with an even bigger questions.
"Who is going to replace the ProTour, and decide the calendar, the rules?," Dauphiné Libéré race director Thierry Cazeneuve asked AFP. "Who will make the decisions and will they have backing?"
Cazeneuve's questions are valid at a time when smaller race organizers are the most exposed to the consequences of the Union Cycliste Internationale Vs. Grand Tour organizers war. Unlike the main players - UCI and the Grand Tour organisers - and even the teams, which have now exercised their position of power, smaller race organizers are incredibly exposed to developments such as these. It's a situation that has several worried about the future, while others feel it will work itself out.
"I still believe that no matter what happens the Tour Down Under will remain as part of the elite of events with the UCI," Tour Down Under director Mike Turtur told ABC Radio. "If that is the case, then that's what we always wanted to achieve for the race, to be part of the elite program of events."
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