New ranking to combine ProTour races and Monuments
By Shane Stokes
The long-running political battle between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers appears to be moving closer to an end following the announcement on Monday of a new "UCI World Calendar" system.
According to the UCI, this will combine the existing ProTour races plus the monument events organised by the Grand Tour organisers. It will come into effect from next season and will feature both individual and team classifications.
Under the proposed terms, participation in the 2009 and 2010 Tours de France will be governed by the agreement signed by the teams and ASO on 18 June. From 2011 onwards, the classifications of the UCI World Calendar would confer the right to participate, with either seventeen teams of 9 riders or eighteen teams of eight taking part.
The announcement of the new system was made on Monday morning in Beijing and followed several weeks of discussions between the UCI and EPA (Editions Philippe Amaury, the owner of ASO and Société du Tour de France).
"I am confident of the fact that this plan will give rise to a fruitful and constructive collaboration that is in the best interests of professional road cycling," said UCI President Pat McQuaid. "In this regard, and with the respect of the UCI's democratic structures, I know that I can rely on the indispensable contribution of all our stakeholders to relaunch and maintain a dialogue on the future of professional cycling."
The Irishman thanked the IOC President Jacques Rogge for the attention that he paid to the situation in the world of cycling. IOC member Jean-Claude Killy was also highlighted for his role as a mediator. McQuaid said that the agreement should satisfy all of the players in professional cycling and expressed his desire that the political conflict of recent years would finally come to an end.
Under the terms of the announcement, the UCI states that it recognises ASO’s exclusive rights of ownership and operation as well as those of all other organisers. At the same time, it claims that, "in more general terms, these modifications are in line with the reform of road cycling launched by the UCI in 2005, in that they favour the development of the sport of cycling to the benefit of all National Federations around the world."
ASO and the other Grand Tour organisers are yet to respond, so it remains to be seen if they will fully accept the terms of the proposal. If so, it would mean that political stability would finally return to the sport. "The unanimous backing of this plan will also allow the parties involved to put an end to the various proceedings under way," states a UCI press release issued after the announcement was made. "This will allow the complete reintegration of the French Cycling Federation within the auspices of the UCI."
It is as yet uncertain if teams will be required to retain their ProTour licences to take part in all the races. This and other details will become clearer in time; more on today’s announcement will follow later.