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Holczer tight-lipped after teams' working group meeting

Team manager, Hans-Michael Holczer

Team manager, Hans-Michael Holczer (Image credit: Florian Schaaf)

ProTour name could stay in 2009

By Gregor Brown and Brecht Decaluwé in Jausiers, France

The ProTour name could continue into 2009, a member of the teams' working group has revealed, however that will depend on the International Cycling Union's willingness to co-operate. Silence-Lotto's Geert Coeman, one of five team representatives in the working group, admitted they wished to continue under the UCI and its ProTour name if the governing body is willing to accept a new structure to the series and its rules.

The teams' organisation went forward with a second meeting during the Tour de France, revealed Hans-Michael Holczer. Despite confirming the meeting took place, the Gerolsteiner team manager remained coy on what was discussed and any progress which may have been achieved.

"I had some meetings, but I don't recall what was said," said Holczer to Cyclingnews one day after the meeting in Cuneo, Italy.

Holczer, one of the five-member working group formed to create a teams' organisation for 2009, would not go into detail on the meeting. It was the fifth meeting held to create a new project which is expected to replace the International Cycling Union's (UCI) ProTour in its current form.

"The group never said it wanted to leave the UCI or that they want to create a new system outside of the federal frame," Holczer said.

Following a meeting on the Tour's first rest day in Pau, a joint statement was released that revealed the teams' refusal to renew their ProTour license for 2009.

The planned meeting in Cuneo was to map out detail on new teams' organisation that would involve its own set of races and race invitation rules. The meeting in Pau on July 15 was attended by 17 of the 18 ProTour teams, but the meeting in Cuneo was attended by a five-member 'working group'. The group is made up of Holczer, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Eva Parera, CSC-Saxo Bank's Carsten Jeppesen, AG2R La Mondiale's Vincent Lavenu and Coeman of Silence-Lotto. It will report its findings to the teams and UCI.

"The five members met on the behalf of the 18 ProTour teams," he said. "The UCI ProTour teams are all informed about what we are doing and what we are planning. There will be no decision made without consulting all of the teams.

"We have some clear determined proposals," he added. "This morning we again informed the UCI's president [Pat McQuaid] that we want to go along with the UCI and there is no alternative to that at this moment."

Coeman travelled to Cuneo on Monday to join the working group's meeting. The Silence-Lotto representative confirmed the teams group wanted to continue to work with the UCI, despite the governing body's ongoing claims of a rival international governing body.

"It was good," said Coeman. "We talked about the insults of the UCI who didn't like what the professional teams are doing right now. Despite that we want to keep working with the UCI, and actually we want to keep the name ProTour for the series we want to ride.

"If the UCI doesn't want to take part in the plans, then so be it," he added. "We will continue with our plans anyway."

The UCI, in addition to running the controversial ProTour, governs international cycling.

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