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UCI president Pat McQuaid speaks at the Giro d'Italia
Decision expected in mid June
During his visit to the Giro d'Italia at Plan de Corones, UCI President Pat McQuaid said that his organization is "working on a project to reform the ProTour in 2011".
"There are various meetings taking place between the UCI and the stakeholders," said McQuaid. "The project will be ready for the meeting of the ProTour council on June 15, and the next day it will hopefully be approved by the board of the UCI. Not until after that will I go into details."
Last week, ProTour teams received a document with information concerning the reform of the UCI points system and the qualification for the races on the world calendar. McQuaid had told Cyclingnews in April that the UCI wishes that the 18 best teams would automatically qualify for the world's biggest races.
In contrast, Grand Tour organisers and teams' representatives have been asking for 12 to 16 assured entries, thereby leaving more wild cards to be allocated.
The debate over automatic qualification will probably remain open for another few weeks.
McQuaid also said in April that the current UCI points system is "not satisfying" and is "to be revised for next year". Cyclingnews anticipates a return of a global UCI ranking, like that which came before the ProTour and the continental circuits were implemented in 2005. There would not be world and continental rankings anymore, but a classification that would take into account all international races from ProTour level to category 2 events, with different scaling. Under 23 races and World Championships would also allocate points to the ranking.
For team and national classifications, the results of the 15 best riders would be taken into account rather than the top five riders as in the present system. This change would keep strong cycling countries like France and the Netherlands from qualifying only six riders for the World Championship. In recent years, nations like Luxembourg and Norway have often qualified nine riders when the qualification system has tallied only the results of a few individuals.
Points would not be counted for just one season, but for two, so injuries would not so drastically modify the team hierarchy, and when a good rider would leave a team, his results would still benefit the team the following year.
The wild card label would also disappear, with all Pro Continental teams being obliged to adhere to the biological passport program. Only three, Vorarlberg-Corratec, Scott-Marcondes and CCC Polsat didn't adhere this year and therefore aren't eligible for Grand Tours and Pro Tour races.
There would be more restrictions for Pro Continental teams wanting access to world calendar races due to the implementation of a points system. For now, the UCI proposes that each Pro Continental team would start the season with 18 points to spend. To participate to the Tour de France would cost 9 points; the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a Espana and major Classics would cost six points; and the smaller ProTour events would cost three points. This system would prevent teams like Cervélo, Cofidis, Bbox Bouygues Telecom and BMC from taking part in all of the races of the world calendar without being ProTour teams.
The final results of the reform project will be announced within one month.