Considered rather late in the game, promoters of the Tour of France, the Giro and the Vuelta sent a messengered
letter to the UCI on Tuesday expressing their misgivings about the upcoming UCI
ProTour, which next year restructures men's professional cycling.
The "big three" told the UCI that they "refuse to take part
[in the ProTour] in its present state."
"We sent a mail to Mr. Verbruggen to tell to him that
with the present state of
the ProTour circuit, we cannot associate ourselves with it. This is not a
definite no after reforms, some are necessary, but no to the ProTour
circuit as it is at present," said Victor Cordero, Vuelta sports director.
"I cannot accept a method that consists of shifting to forced marches without
taking into account legitimate questions and suggestions," ASO (Tour de
Patrice Clerc said.
The objections outlined by the big three are the ethical requirements of teams, the four year closed team structure
and licensing for race promoters. The demands on the so-called ProTour team licensing
requirements can conceivably create a "closed shop" in
professional racing, such that new teams and sponsors will not find openings to
compete at the highest level, and conversely, that the ProTour teams themselves
are locked in (four year sponsorship contracts are required) regardless of their
performance. In the words of Clerc, "One doesn't buy the right to be the
Clerc said: "One does not spend six months or twelve months thinking of
setting up something that will commit the future of cycling. Why
want it on January 1st, 2005? To try to impose a reform that is not
comprehensive is fated to fail. It will explode in full flight and that is
bad for cycling."
He continues: "I said that it seemed wiser to me to set the project
for 2006 in order to have the time to find solutions. I also detailed to the
president of the UCI, in case he insists on setting it for 2005, conditions in
which we would accept being included in the international calendar. It was not
about acceptance of the ProTour, of licenses, etc."
The plan also requires licensing of the race promoters, and again, Clerc was
quite straightforward: "It is not acceptable to ask for authorization to do what
one has done for a hundred years."
"We will use all means we can," said the president of ASO, in answer
to the position of the UCI, which is "The ProTour will go on, with or without the
Tour of France."
Manolo Saiz, director of the Liberty Seguros team and drafter and defender of
the ProTour, says that the big three's position is not definitive. They are
open to negotiation. It is necessary to continue to work."
Also see Giro d'Italia organiser Angelo Zomegnan's comments in today's
Of note by the excellent Cycling4all
is that these three organizers are responsible for organizing eleven of the ProTour races: the
Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, Paris-Nice,
Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallone, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Tours, Tirreno
Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo and the Giro di Lombardia.
Cycling4all also reports that the UCI has had discussions today with RCS
Group, the organizer of the Giro d'Italia, and that the group is now in favor, that a
decision will soon come from Unipublic, the Vuelta organizer, leaving the ASO
the possible lone holdout. This sounds rather doubtful after the big three have gone on record as they have, not to mention what impact this might have on team sponsors who throw considerable resources at these three races each year. But there are still a few months left to sort out this pesky detail - whether Grand Tours will be part of the only game in town next year...
The ProTour Race Scheme
Starting in January 2005, a restructured UCI race calendar is in store. The racing season, from the UCI's point of view, will consist of the UCI
ProTour plus five continental tours: the UCI Africa Tour, UCI America Tour, UCI Asia
Tour, UCI Europe Tour, and the UCI Oceania Tour. For each circuit there will be
an overall individual classification, a country classification and a team
The UCI has also undertaken a reclassification and simplification of races. There will be two levels of races:
World level - ProTour
Continental level - Class HC, Class 1, Class 2
Grand Tours, World
Cup and Hors Classe races will now be known as HC races. Former Hors Category races
and "other top quality and strategically important races" will now be
known as ProTour races, former Class 2 and 3 races will now be Class 1
races, and the rest (5, 6 and 7) will be known as Class 2 races. Courtesy of Cycling4all, here is the ProTour
calendar for 2005:
13 March Paris-Nice
15 March Tirreno-Adriatico
19 March Milano-San Remo
3 April Ronde van Vlaanderen
8 April Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco
6 April Gent-Wevelgem
10 April Paris-Roubaix
17 April Amstel Gold Race
20 April Flèche Wallonne
24 April Liège-Bastogne - Liège
26 April-1 May Tour de Romandie
7-29 May Giro d'Italia
16-22 May Vuelta Ciclista a Catalunya
12 June Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
19 June Tour de Suisse
19 June Team Time Trial in Netherlands
2-24 July Tour de France
31 July HEW Cyclassics Cup Hamburg
10 August Tour du Benelux
13 August Clasica San Sebastian
15-23 August Deutschland Tour
27 August- 8 Sept Vuelta a Espana
18 September Tour de Pologne
22 September World Championship - Time Trial - Spain
25 September World Championship - Road Race - Spain
2 October Züri Metzgete
9 October Paris - Tours
15 October Giro di Lombardia
There is no distinct World Cup in this scheme, as is discussed in the
excellent article by mapeifan:
The UCI World
Cup: A Look Back at 15 Years and a Look Ahead.
In the continental tours, here's briefly how the other top continental races stack up
All African races are ranked as 2.2 for 2005.
In Asia, the Doha International GP and Japan Cup are 1.1, Tour of Qatar, Tour of
Qinghai Lake and Tour de Langakwi are 2.1.
In Oceania, the Herald Sun Tour and Jakob's Creek Tour Down Under are 2.1
ranked, all others are 2.2.
In South America, the Volta do Rio de Janeiro is the only 2.1 race, all others
being of the second category.
In North America, there are several 1.1 and 2.1 races: GP Cycliste de Beauce,
Tour de Georgia, the Wachovia Series, USPRO Criterium, Vail (which was cancelled
this year) and T-Mobile International.
The New ProTour Team Scheme
Following are the UCI descriptions of the various classifications of teams
under the new rules.
Top-level professional teams with a license:
Twenty teams [at present it appears that it will be 18] will be able to acquire a licence for a maximum duration of 4
years. Licences will be issued in accordance with strict criteria (sporting,
ethical, legal and financial) and will entail clearly defined rights and
obligations, particularly in terms of participation in ProTour races. [As far as is known, these
teams will be obliged to race in the entire ProTour.]
These teams have been issued a provisional license by the UCI: Davitamon-Lotto, Fassa Bortolo,
Here are the other teams that will likely have ProTour licenses - this process will be wrapped up by year end:
Phonak Hearing Systems
Quick Step - Davitamon
And one team not yet announced
These are professional structures having successfully undergone a financial
and legal audit carried out by the UCI. Their status must be renewed
each year. These teams may race in the ProTour, Hors Classe and Class 1
These are professional and non-professional teams recognised and certified by
the national federation of the country where the majority of the riders come from.Each
federation may register a maximum of 15 continental teams that fulfill the
following criteria: 8 to 16 athletes, the majority of riders under 28, and
regulated transfers. These teams may race in Hors Classe, Class 1 and 2 events.
The structure of national teams will remain unchanged. Nonetheless the UCI
intends to raise their status by giving them a central role in continental
circuits. These teams may race in Class 1 and 2 events.
Regional and club teams:
As in the past, regional and club structures will have access, to a limited
extent, to races on continental circuits. Regional and club structures will be
placed under the responsibility and authority of the national federations. These
teams may race in Class 1 and 2 events.