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UCI ProTour - 2008 Schedule & Teams
By Staff
Date: 1/21/2008
UCI ProTour - 2008 Schedule & Teams

UCI ProTour - 2008 Schedule & Teams
The shrinking ProTour: Race Calendar, ProTour Teams, and commentary.

By Andrew Canning

2008 ProTour
If 2007 is remembered for anything it will be the infighting between the sport’s organizers which often overshadowed the year’s greatest moments. What you make of the 2008 ProTour, therefore, depends on who you listen to.

2007 Giro di LombardiaLead chase group,  Sammy Sanchez and Cadel Evan in the white ProTour leaders jersey after the UCI eliminated leader Danilo Di Luca from the race and ProTour competition. Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

The UCI (International Cycling Union) will tell you that the globalisation of the sport is leading the sport to previously unchartered territory. ASO (the Tour de France organisers), however, will tell you that the series has long since expired and that it is the riders that characterise the sport not a Formula-One-style year-long series.

Paolo Bettini, World Champion joins Cadel Evans on the podium for the presentation of the final ProTour Jersey for 2007. Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

The Shrinking ProTour and World Cup
As a result of all the infighting, the 2008 ProTour has undergone a radical diet during the off-season. Gone are most of the events that make cycling so popular; the three Grand Tours of Italy, France and Spain along with all five of the Monuments (with the exception of the Tour of Flanders).

However, what remains not only illustrates the UCI’s stubborn determination to make the series succeed, but a collection of races to which the sport’s biggest teams will be obliged to attend. Some have questioned the logic of making Spanish teams attend the cobbled Northern Classics, but the series has ensured that the shadow-boxing which characterised the sport during the 1990s has come to an end. Although several major events have been acrimoniously removed from the series, what remains as a calendar, may well succeed as a replacement to the World Cup series of the 1990s. The series may also see a different class of rider emerge as overall winner as the ProTour now only features one day and small stage races. (2008 & 2007 Pro Tour listed below with 2008 Pro Tour teams.)

As the world’s top eighteen teams are obliged to attend all ProTour events, a quality field is assured throughout the season, although it remains to be seen whether riders will still target the overall classification with the removal of so many prestigious events.

Gone from the ProTour: 2007 Vuelta a Espana - Stage 19 Sammy Sanchez celebrates his second stage win. Daniel Moreno second, Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre follow at the finish. Photo © Fotoreporter Sirotti

The ProTour in its previous guises was often criticised for placing unrealistic demands on the teams which were often stretched to two events at the same time. This problem has been largely resolved by reducing the number of events and ensuring that most of these do not overlap. The ProTour has now been reduced to eighteen teams after Discovery Channel folded and Unibet lost its license, which means that there will be more wildcard opportunities for UCI Pro Continental teams at their home events, which unfortunately often lost out in past seasons. This may make for a more exciting season for the fans with Pro Continental outfits battling for a berth in some of the classics and Grand Tours; depending on the arbitrary selections of the organizers.

However, for all the infighting that has detracted from the main spectacle over the past season, the show must go on and go on it does. With little more than three months since the last major event, the Tour of Lombardy in October 2007, the world’s top eighteen teams will be making a trip all the way to Australia for the Tour Down Under. As part of the famed mondialisation of the sport championed under ex-UCI head honcho Hein Verbruggen, the ProTour will be heading outside of Europe for the first time in its three year history.

Although the Tour Down Under has been traditionally been used as a ‘training’ event for European-based riders aiming to peak later in the season, the race’s elevated position in the calendar could produce some interesting results as the Australian-based riders will seek to impress the world’s best directeurs-sportifs. From Australia, there will be a long break until the Tour of Flanders in April when the European season starts proper. Do not be misled though; the ProTour features some of the sport’s top races, but the three Grand Tours and the Classics outside of the classification remain and will be as hotly contested as ever.

2008 ProTour Calendar:
Tour down Under (AUS) 22/01/08- 27/01/08
Tour of Flanders (BEL) 06/04/08
Tour of Basque Country (ESP) 07/04/08- 12/04/08
Ghent-Wevelgem (BEL) 09/04/08
Amstel Gold (NED) 20/04/08
Tour of Romandy (SUI) 29/04/08- 04/05/08
Tour of Catalunya (ESP) 19/05/08- 25/05/08
Critérium du Dauphiné Liberé (FRA) 08/06/08 -15/06/08
Tour de Suisse (SUI) 14/06/08 -22/06/08
Team Time Trial (NED) 22/06/08
San Sebastian (ESP) 02/08/08
Eneco Tour (BEN) 20/08/08 -27/08/08
GP Ouest France Plouay (FRA) 25/08/08
Tour of Germany (GER) 29/08/08 -06/09/08
Vattenfall Cyclassics (GER) 07/09/08
Tour of Poland (POL) 14/09/08 -20/09/08
Final - ProTour Awards (TBC) 05/10/08

2008 ProTour Teams
Team - Country - Code
Ag2r-La Mondiale FRA - ALM
Astana - Luxembourg - AST
Bouygues Telecom - France - BTL
Caisse d'Epargne - Spain - GCE
Cofidis, le Credit Par Telephone France - COF
Credit Agricole - France - C.A
Euskaltel - Euskadi Spain - EUS
Française Des Jeux - France - FDJ
Gerolsteiner Germany - GST
High Road Germany - THR
Lampre/Fondital - Italy - LAM
Liquigas - Italy - LIQ
Quick Step Belgium - QST
Rabobank The Netherlands - RAB
Saunier Duval-Scott  - Spain - SDV
Silence-Lotto BEL - SIL
Team Milram Germany - MRM

2006 Paris - Roubaix Fabio Cancellara Solo on the final section of cobbles on the way to victory.. Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

2007 UCI ProTour races
Date Events Country

11-18.03.2007 Paris - Nice France
14-20.03.2007 Tirreno - Adriatico Italy
24.03.2007 Milano - Sanremo Italy
08.04.2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres Belgium
09-14.04.2007 Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco Spain
11.04.2007 Gent - Wevelgem Belgium
15.04.2007 Paris - Roubaix France
22.04.2007 Amstel Gold Race Netherlands
25.04.2007 La Flèche Wallonne Belgium
29.04.2007 Liège - Bastogne - Liège Belgium
01-06.05.2007 Tour de Romandie Switzerland
12.05-03.06.2007 Giro d'Italia Italy
21-27.05.2007 Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Spain
10-17.06.2007 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré France
16-24.06.2007 Tour de Suisse Switzerland
24.06.2007 Eindhoven Team Time Trial Netherlands
07-29.07.2007 Tour de France France
04.08.2007 Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian - San Sebastian Spain
10-18.08.2007 Deutschland-Tour Germany
19.08.2007 Vattenfall Cyclassics Germany
22-29.08.2007 Eneco Tour ---
01-23.09.2007 Vuelta a España Spain
02.09.2007 GP Ouest France - Plouay France
09-15.09.2007 Tour de Pologne Poland
07.10.2007 Züri Metzgete Switzerland
14.10.2007 Paris - Tours France
20.10.2007 Giro di Lombardia Italy

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