Tour Down Under for ProTour?

The leaders at the Tour Down Under

The leaders at the Tour Down Under (Image credit: Mark Gunter)

South Australian Premier Mike Rann met with UCI President Pat McQuaid in London this weekend to lobby for an upgrade in status for the Tour Down Under, a traditional season-opening race for many pros in Australia every January.

South Australia is competing with Qatar, Bahrain, Malaysia and California to earn status as the host of the first-ever ProTour race outside of Europe.

The UCI is scheduled to make a decision in Stuttgart, Germany, in September.

"We intend to lodge our formal bid by the end of June but lobbying for it will be ongoing right through until the final decision is announced in September," said Rann according to Adelaide's The Advertiser. "The meeting with Mr. McQuaid was very positive but there is a long way to go yet."

Motives for joining the ProTour include increasing international television and press coverage as well as drawing more visitors. This year, less than a half dozen of the 20 ProTour teams competed at the Tour Down Under. If ProTour status were granted, all ProTour teams would attend.

The tenth anniversary edition of the Tour Down Under is scheduled for January 19-27, 2008. Swiss racer Martin Elmiger (AG2r Prévoyance) won the 2007 edition.

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