ASO president Patrice Clerc says the decision to take the Tour and other races into the ProTour doesPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The ProTour may be going ahead next season with the 27 events that had long been envisaged, including the Tour de France, but the president of Tour organisers ASO, Patrice Clerc, has made clear that a deal has been agreed simply to avoid the sport falling into turmoil. Speaking to L'Equipe, Clerc said, "We have not totally integrated into the ProTour. Real differences of opinion still exist, notably on the questions of ethics and doping, and these prevent us from agreeing totally on the concept of the ProTour." Clerc said the decision made by ASO and fellow major tour organisers RCS (Giro) and Unipublic (Vuelta) to join next season's elite level circuit had been made after representations from teams and other race organisers afraid that the sport might otherwise face a chaotic short-term future. "This is a provisional agreement for 2005, but we are far from totally ready," stated Clerc. "On the first of October, for example, a decision was taken to put in place an ethical code, but two months on that code has still not been produced." Clerc's discontent was underlined when he commented: "In 2005 the world calendar will be called the UCI ProTour calendar. We can't stop (UCI president) Hein Verbruggen from calling it that." Lampre-Caffita team manager Claudio Corti no doubt spoke for most of his ProTour team colleagues when he told L'Equipe: "This accord was inevitable and necessary for cycling and the sporting groups, who have increased their budgets in a significant manner in the hope of getting a return on this. It is important to know that the ProTour will be starting next season with the three major tours in it."