September 28/07 10:35 am - ProTour & North American Calendar's Announced by UCI
Posted by Editoress on 09/28/07
Road World Championships Stuttgart, Germany
Coverage sponsored by Norco
Yesterday, the UCI all but admitted that they had lost the war with the Grand Tour organizers after a heavily revamped ProTour was announced. Out are all the Grand tours (Tour de France, Giro and Vuelta), plus the other major classics run by ASO (TdF) and RDI (Giro) - Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Lombardy, Tirreno Adriatico, Paris-Nice, Fleche Walloone and Paris-Tours.
The UCI said that these events will go on the European calendar as the highest level events, and will not require the organizers to guarantee entry to all ProTour teams (they are 'open' events). However, the UCI is fighting to save some face by declaring that the Tour de France will be required to offer entry to all the current 18 ProTour teams. There is no word from the Tour as to whether it accepts this requirement.
The UCI will instead introduce a number of new events to the ProTour calendar, starting with Australia's Tour Down Under next year, making this the first ProTour event to take place outside of Europe. The UCI also says that they have signed a letter of intent to introduce the Tour of China, and are in discussions with the Russian federation. Significantly, there was no mention of the Amgen Tour of California (or the recently announced uber-race Tour of America...).
The final race of the 2008 ProTour calendar will take place October 5th, but the UCI declined to say where, or even what country it will take place in. The UCI stated that these changes are part of their plan to increase the globalization of cycling.
It also looks likely that the ProTour team designation may gradually fade away, since the UCI announced that Professional Continental teams will be allowed to enter ProTour events, after having gone through a rigorous financial and sporting approval process. The question becomes: why would any team want to go to the bother of taking out a ProTour licence?
The America Continental Calendar for 2008 (for Elite/U23 Men) has also been released, with 15 events listed for North America, including three in Canada - Coupe des Nations Ville Saguenay (June 5-8), Beauce (June 10-15) and The Welland Race (August 3rd). Missing are the Tour of Utah and Montreal-Boston - both of which are said to be unlikely to take place.
For women there are seven events in North America, with three in Canada - Montreal Women's World Cup (May 31st), Tour of Grand Montreal (June 2-5) and Tour de PEI (June 8-12).