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ProTour is a wrap, and Valverde wins in absentia

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) (Image credit: Unipublic)

The UCI's embattled ProTour wrapped up in the icy conditions at the Tour of Poland in Sunday. The overall victory by German Jens Voigt (CSC-Saxo Bank) did not threaten the lead in the series of Alejandro Valverde. The Caisse d'Epargne rider, currently racing in the much more temperate Tour of Spain was happy to have repeated his overall ProTour win for the second year in a row.

One of the quirks of the ProTour is that the the series has several weekends of conflicting races, so the man who sealed the overall win was not present at the final podium ceremony. Valverde, however, gave his statement in a press release from Spain.

"I feel very proud for having won that classification for the second time," he said. "Maybe this time it does not have the same importance as the first one because many great events were no longer making part of this classification and that lessened its value, but regardless, to win it is proof of my consistency during the season and something important in a rider's career."

The ProTour, conceived by the UCI's former president Hein Verbruggen in 2004 faced a near death this year when opposition by the Grand Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), RCS Sport and Unipublic refused to have most of their events as part of the ProTour. They objected to the rules imposed by the UCI that all ProTour teams must be invited to events in the series.

The conflict led the ASO to not only pull out of the ProTour but to hold the its season opener Paris-Nice and the Tour outside the sanction of the UCI. The UCI responded by suspending the French Federation and threatening to fine or sanction teams and riders who took part in the Tour. The teams put their collective feet down and decided to pull out of the ProTour for 2009 if the conflict could not be resolved.

Several teams declined to renew their ProTour licenses, but most of the current teams have licenses which run through the 2009 season.

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