Tours enter ProTour reluctantlyClose
The possibility of there being two rival circuits at the top level of the sport next season has recePICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Although the organisers of the three major tours and several other key races have agreed to allow these events into next season's ProTour circuit, they are insisting that changes must be made to the circuit before they will agree to join it in 2006. In a letter sent to International Cycling Union (UCI) president Hein Verbruggen on November 29, the organisers of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espa¤a state that, in spite of positive talks between the two sides in recent weeks, "a number of differences of opinion still exist. It seems more than probable that we are still some way from finding a long-term agreement on this project." The race organisers said that their main objective in joining the ProTour in 2005 is to avoid causing difficulties for the teams that have signed up for the circuit, which will now comprise 16 events already selected by the UCI and 11 that are run by the major tour organisations. All 19 teams admitted to the ProTour will be pre-selected for all 27 events now on the circuit. The three major tour organisations, ASO (Tour), RCS (Giro) and Unipublic (Vuelta), restate in their letter to Verbruggen that they still want to see the development of an ethical code, the introduction of some form of promotion/relegation format for the ProTour and a written understanding about TV, image and other rights relating to events. The letter concludes that the aim now should be to "take the necessary time to reflect on these issues together within a working group that should be set up as soon as possible and that can move towards developing new regulations and a system acceptable to all sides that can be put in place from 2006."