Grand Tour organisers want more control over teamsClose
The grand tours are continuing their fight against the ProTour, demanding that they be allowed to coPIC BY PETE GODING The organisers of the Giro, Tour and Vuelta have decided to reduce the number of teams that automatically qualify for their races in coming years. The organisers, RCS Sport, ASO and Unipublic, control nearly all the major races on the calendar. They are still very much against the UCI's ProTour, which up until now has guaranteed the 20 ProTeams invitations to every big race. In a communiqu, the three organisers declared that, "All their attempts to come together with the International Cycling Union have been refused by the latter to return to an open sporting model, and they do not want to see their events be part of a closed system." The statement goes on to define "conditions for participation" in their events: Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, la Flche Wallonne, Lige-Bastogne-Lige, Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a Espa¤a, Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia. "From 2008, 16 cycling teams will qualify based on criteria yet to be determined and principally the performances over the preceding two years: 2006 and 2007 results for qualifying to take part in the 2008 and 2009 races, and so on. "To participate in their 2007 events during this transition year the organisers of the three Major Tours, in order to pose no delays, consider the following 18 teams qualified to compete in their events: AG2R Prvoyance, Bouygues Telecom, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, Cofidis, Crdit Agricole, Discovery Channel, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Franaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, Lampre-Fondital, Liquigas, Predictor-Lotto, Quickstep-Innergetic, Rabobank, Saunier Duval-Prodir, T Mobile Team, Team CSC and Team Milram." The organisers won't require these 18 teams to take part: "Their participation will be optional and each one will indicate to the organiser of each event, no later than December 31st of the preceding year if they wish to participate or not." There will be up to 22 teams allowed into each of the grand tours in 2007, and 20 teams in 2008. That means that up to four wildcards will be given out by the organisers, as was the case before the ProTour launched in 2005. Additionally, the organisers want to retain "the right to refuse entry to all riders or any member of a team if their presence puts the event in a bad light." The decision my the organisers strikes at the heart of the ProTour philosophy, which is to guarantee the top teams starts in the top races. But up until now, the UCI has refused to shift on its stance, and it has the support of the teams. "They can't start anything," said UCI president Pat McQuaid in a brief reaction to the statement. "We are the international cycling organisation and determine the rules. The organisers cannot just set their own course." Enter the forum Procycling's forum has officially opened for business. Just head to procycling.com/forum/ and sound off in there about anything you want to related to Procycling, the pro side of the sport, your technical queries, or even your favourite caf.