World cycling chief Pat McQuaid has said he is ready to acquiesce to the wishes of organisers of the Vuelta, Giro and Tour to opt out of the series.
The UCI introduced the Pro Tour three years ago in a bid to promote a lucrative series of races featuring all the top teams and riders. However, the grand tour organisers have consistently opposed the set-up which lacks a mechanism by which teams can be relegated or promoted to the series and which has led to the disappearance of a number of smaller races.
Both parties had set a deadline of September 21 to find a solution to the dispute, and McQuaid said yesterday that the UCI had already sent a new set of proposals to the race organisers.
"We have agreed to meet their demands which consist of no longer being part of the Pro Tour. We've been at loggerheads for the past three years; it can't go on," he said.
McQuaid added that the UCI are currently studying possible reforms to the Pro Tour series, with the world ruling body likely to insist on its objective of promoting the sport, through races, globally.
However the president of ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation), the company which runs the Tour de France is unimpressed by the UCI's new proposals.
"They are extremely worrying as regards the future of cycling," said ASO chief Patrice Clerc.
Jaksche gets anticipated one year "plea bargaining" ban
The Austrian-based German, Jorg Jaksche, has been convicted of doping and handed a one-year ban by the Österreichischen Radsport-Verband (ORV), Austria's cycling federation. Speaking in Vienna yesterday, the ORV's anti-doping committee member Gernot Schaar said Jaksche's ban would run until July 2, 2008, after the German was convicted of using growth hormones and having been involved in blood doping.
Jaksche is one of the many riders implicated in the Operation Puerto doping affair in Spain and had made a series of revelations in recent months, including admitting that he has doped since 1997. Riders who cooperate with the anti-doping authorities are now routinely given a 12 month ban rather the maximum two years which could be imposed.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2007