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There's been no news on the future of the ProTour for a few weeks now, but it seems that an agreement on the format of the series from next season might not be too far away from being announced. According to reports in various press outlets, a working group set up by the International Cycling Union, the major tour organisers, and the major teams and sponsors has approved a draft agreement, and that this now only needs formal approval by the UCI.
The main change to the ProTour is likely to be a reduction in the number of teams from 20 to 18, with no replacements for teams that drop out of the selected 18. Teams will be given licences for three years instead of four, and a form of promotion/relegation will be introduced by insisting on six teams each season having to reapply for new licences. The number of races is also likely to be reduced, with some appearing in the ProTour biannually, with the result that the next level of racing would be beefed up considerably in stature.
- Phonak's Santiago Botero is set to make a late start to the season at this weekend's Alcobendas Classic in Spain. The Colombian traditionally started racing well into the season in order to peak for the Tour de France, but Phonak insisted that he started earlier last year following a lacklustre couple of seasons with T-Mobile. Botero responded by winning the Tour of Romandy and finishing second in the Dauphin Libr, results which seem to have earned him a return to his previous programme, which gives him a nine-month break from racing.
- After finishing third in Monday's GP Frankfurt behind Stefano Garzelli and procycling Fab Four member Gerald Ciolek, Danilo Hondo declared that he has not given up hope of starting the Tour de France in July. Currently riding with German continental team Lamonta after a doping ban, the 32 year old said "I am optimistic that I can still take part at the Tour de France," in Frankfurt.
"Not so long ago I was receiving 99 per cent jeers. This time 99 per cent of the people cheered me on," he added. "That was nice. Everyone has the right to be regarded as innocent until they are proven guilty." Hondo's two-year ban for use of the banned stimulant carphedon was lifted temporarily in March by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after the rider had claimed the positive test could have been because by a dirty water bottle
- Ag2r's Philip Deignan has been forced to stand down from the Giro d'Italia due to a kidney infection. The Irishman's place will be be taken by compatriot Mark Scanlon. The team have also lost Stphane Goubert from the original line-up due to tendonitis in his knee.
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