Cofidis opt out of ProTour

UCI's premier race series assuming dead duck status

France's number one cycling team Cofidis announced Thursday it would opt out of cycling's elite ProTour series next season.

The Pro Tour series was established three years ago but, because of disagreements with some major race organisers, it has struggled to become synonymous with top level cycling.

Cofidis said it would look to have a Continental Pro licence in 2009, a cheaper alternative which also allows the French team to "concentrate on being seen at all the major French races and in events which contribute to the promotion of our image in the European countries where we have a presence."

A team statement said: "Today having a ProTour licence means making big investments which are not always financially viable because it takes the Cofidis team to more and more countries in which it has no operations. The French and European races on the Continental Pro calendar provide sufficient opportunity for us to achieve our commercial aims."

Cofidis's top rider is Sylvain Chavanel, who comes into this year's Tour de France in superb form and hoping for at least a stage win.

The team were thrown out of last year's race after their former Italian rider, Cristian Moreni, tested positive for testosterone.

© AFP 2008

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