Small races face growing problems

The ProTour may be getting increasingly good reviews at the top level of the sport, but some of thos

The ProTour may be getting increasingly good reviews at the top level of the sport, but some of thos

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

As the season progresses, the effects of the introduction of the ProTour are beginning to be felt by those races and organisers outside the elite level series, writes Susanne Horsdal. Some events are clearly profiting from having ProTour status and thus knowing they are guaranteed the participation of all of the ProTour teams. Others, though, are already facing growing difficulties in attracting the big teams.

In Sunday's CSC Classic (category 1.1 on the European Tour) in Denmark, home-grown Team CSC was the only ProTour team on the start line, while MrBookmaker, Barloworld and Team Wiesenhof were the only professional continental teams. Last year, in comparison, the race attracted six division one teams and several professional division two teams.

CSC Classic race organiser Jesper Tikib refuses to complain but admits that it has become more difficult to contract the bigger teams. "It really hasn't been easy - because of the ProTour and because of the Henninger Turm race, which this year fell on the same date. We were very close to signing three more ProTour teams but because of logistics we didn't even get to talk start money," says Tikib.

However, start money is also becoming a growing issue. The official UCI price for a ProTour team in this type of race is 2,500 euros. In practice, that figure is closer to 10,000 euros before negotiations even start.

This year's edition of the Danish race had a budget of about 225,000 euros. By how much that will have to increase to get ProTour teams at the start Tikib doesn't know. "But there's the risk that it'll be the money that decides and not whether you're able to make a good and professionally organised race."

And with no UCI points to be earned by ProTour teams and riders in Continental Tour races, the only incentive is really the money.

"It would clearly make a difference if riders could make points outside the ProTour. After all, the teams have 25-28 riders who need to ride other races than the ProTour. But let's give the UCI time to have a look at things. At least Scandinavia has a chance to - at some point - get a big one-day race because we're not in contention with a lot of other races in our area, as is the case in the big cycling nations," says Tikib, who believes that a sort of division two with its own heroes will develop. "What is the fear is that it'll develop into a completely new system that'll compete with the UCI and that would be bad," he says.

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