ProTour polemics & UCI governance
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
A long-time friend of Lance Armstrong who was the former head of cycling at La Gazetta dello Sport, Angelo Zomegnan is now head of RCS Sport, part of the Italian media giant Rizzoli Corriere della Sera and organizer of the Giro d'Italia, Milano-Sanremo and Giro di Lombardia, among other major cycling events. Zomegnan visited the Tour de France last weekend to pay homage to his friend Armstrong, who he covered since the American's first pro win at GP Sanson in Marostica, Italy in 1992.
When Cyclingnews sat down with Zomegnan to get his perspective on recent developments between the Grand Tour organizers and the UCI over the ProTour, he said: "Really, since last year, nothing has changed between us [Grand Tour organizers] and the UCI over the ProTour since last year in September.
"We are still convinced that the ProTour concept is not the ideal way to bring forward needed reforms in professional cycling. What has changed, according to Zomegnan, is that "many race organizers and teams in the ProTour have begun to understand that this reform isn't going that well, and even if they are not saying so publicly, have become convinced that the ProTour isn't working."
Cyclingnews: Why are the organizers and team saying that the ProTour isn't working out for them?
Angelo Zomegnan: Because there are too many days of racing, because there are too many teams. The ProTour is a system that is copied from a model that comes from American pro sports that isn't adaptable to cycling. Because, in cycling, the champion rider, the team leader is still more important than the team itself. So you can't just borrow the model of the NBA, where at the end of the finals, the worst team gets the top draft pick.
In cycling, the weakest team is still the weakest team at the end of the season. So there are too many teams in the ProTour; 20 teams are too many, the system just can't support this many teams and the teams can't support 157 days of racing per season. Plus the calendar has too many conflicts; the ProTour TTT is at the same time as the Tour de Suisse, the Tour of Catalunya during the Giro d'Italia, the Tour of Poland during the Vuelta d'Espana. So when the Giro and Catalunya are at the same time, Spanish TV, or rather TV Catalunya, will show their race and not the Giro so this limits the exposure. So the difference between last year and this year is that many race organisers and many ProTour teams now understand that the obligations of the ProTour participation are greater than the advantages.
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Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'
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