December 09, 2005
Grand Tours to ProTour: Drop dead!
The Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España are splitsville with the UCI's ProTour. After more than a year of negotiations turned to squabbling, the big 3 can see no reason to stick with the newish ProTour, which the UCI hoped would become as well-known as other season-long sports tours, like the PGA tour.
In a joint statement released Friday, the Grand Tour sponsors say the ProTour was fundamentally unfair because all events were worth the same points, and because race-winning teams who weren't part of the ProTour, including Comunidad Valenciana and Panaria, earned no points.
This removes not only the three-week tours, but their sponsored events, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Nice, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Lombardy, Flèche Wallonne, and Tirreno-Adriatico from the ProTour.
The big 3 will still allow all ProTour teams entry in 2006, if they desire, but in 2007, they plan to take the 14 highest-scoring teams on a new points system, plus up to 8 wildcards for each tour.
Patrice Clerc, the president of Tour de France organisers, said: "Maintaining for 2006 the agreement we had for 2005, in other words a status quo, makes no sense because the situation was only a transition aimed at reaching a global agreement on the Pro-Tour, which the UCI are now saying they will not come up with."
To encourage squads to ride all three Grand Tours, which the ProTour rules required, organizers will pay a 100,000 euro bonus to teams participating in the Vuelta, Giro, and Tour, and will bring back the Trophee des Grands Tours, with a 2 million euro total split among the 7 teams with the best combined performance in the national tours.
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