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International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid has revealed that the organisation is considering the introduction of a two-tier circuit for men's elite cycling some time after the 2006 season. The Irishman made his comments to the French La Provence newspaper, suggesting it was one way that the current dispute with Tour de France organisers ASO over the ProTour could be resolved.
ASO and their fellow major tour organisers have repeatedly criticised the format and introduction of the ProTour series and have said they will pull their races from the series if their demands for change are not met. McQuaid indicated that the two-tier circuit could offer a solution to the impasse, but explained that a number of potential problems would need to be resolved beforehand.
"If they so wish we will include the Tour de France and other events in a different international calendar, while the UCI on their side will continue to strive for its ProTour project," said McQuaid. "There will obviously be a lot of work, a lot of thought to go into this double system. It will also be necessary to take several things into consideration like selections for the world championships, the Olympic Games, the international points scale.
"It will need at least a year to put in place," said the Irishman, who was elected to his post in September. "We have to convince the ASO of the ProTour's worth and that even with this circuit they will retain all their privileges. ASO believe that in the future the teams will be able to reclaim a percentage of the television rights. This again is a mistake because I'm convinced that this will not be necessary for the teams. the television rights will remain the property of the organisers."
McQuaid, who is ready to negotiate a way out of the impasse with ASO, also called on ASO president Patrice Clerc to compromise on his position so that negotiations between the two organisations could evolve.
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