How about some positive news about the ProTour? There may still be disputes to be ironed out, but soPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE With the ProTour and the continental series calendars now set after many weeks of negotiation, the first indications of how the International Cycling Union's huge overhaul of the racing system are emerging. While most recent coverage has focused on teams wanting to get into the ProTour and their disappointment at missing out, there appear to be significant advantages for some in being outside the system. A story in the Ouest France newspaper highlights the case of the Polynormande one-day race, which takes place in the hometown of Tour de France podium announcer Daniel Mangeas, St Martin de Landelles. Previously rated a 1.3 category event, this hilly one-dayer gained its status and a fairly strong field of riders primarily because it is since last season part of the Coupe de France series. However, under the new ratings it now has a 1.1 ranking, giving it equal status with events such as Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, which was previously a 1.2-ranking event. This change means that the Polynormande could now attract up to 50 per cent of its riders from the ProTour teams when the next edition takes place on July 31 next year. For Mangeas and his fellow Polynormande organisers, a calendar makeover that had at one point seemed in doubt and was threatening their event, has now become a real boon for it. "We're very happy with it," said Mangeas, who is hoping that a date share with the HEW Cyclassics Cup won't stop all of the French domestic teams and a few others besides turning out on July 31 in the search for some useful points. Fellow organiser Loic Renard observed: "The 50 per cent clause provides the assurance that the race can get seven ProTour teams, but also the pick of the continental squads such as Ag2r and Phonak. If that hadn't been the case the field would not be so attractive and we would no doubt get fewer spectators." Jean-Francois Pescheux, co-director of Tour organisers ASO, who still have reservations about the new system, also added his qualified support to the ProTour. "The aim of the set-up is that the ProTour doesn't have a detrimental effect on races in the other categories by depriving the race organisers in France, for example, of the home teams in the top level of the sport. We will need to have a year of experimentation to see whether this strategy works out," said Pescheux. As Mangeas points out, one of ASO's continuing concerns about the ProTour is the lack of promotion/relegation to the elite level circuit. "It is vital to have a relegation and promotion system because if the riders compete in a closed system like Formula 1 has I don't think it will be interesting," said Mangeas. Formula 1 features teams that often seem to be doing no more than filling up the start grid, and the UCI, ASO and others overseeing cycling will no doubt be doing all they can to avoid elite cycling falling into the same non-competitive trap.