ProTour: Major tours in, Phonak out

A very big day for the ProTour as the three major tours decide to opt in for next season and the UCI

A very big day for the ProTour as the three major tours decide to opt in for next season and the UCI
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The International Cycling Union (UCI) has revealed this morning (Tuesday) that the three major tours and associated races will form part of next year's ProTour circuit, and has also confirmed that the Phonak team has not been granted a licence for the ProTour. The Ag2r and MrBookmaker.com teams also had their appeals for ProTour inclusion turned down. For much of the past two months it had seemed that cycling's biggest races and the sport's federation had irreconcilable differences on the establishment of the ProTour. However, a compromise has been reached, with Tour de France organisers ASO, Giro organisers RCS and Vuelta organisers Unipublic putting these and other events under the ProTour umbrella. Despite this agreement, negotiations between the UCI and the major tours are likely to continue into next season. In a statement, ASO has said that it wanted "to prevent a crisis in cycling that is not good for anyone and to allow the [ProTour] teams to prepare for the new road season with total calm." This decision means that as well as the three major tours, events such as Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Lige-Bastogne-Lige, Flche Wallonne, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Lombardy, Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice should all feature on the ProTour calendar next season. After hearing final appeals for inclusion in the ProTour from Phonak, Ag2r and MrBookmaker.com on November 22, the UCI's licensing commission has decided not to grant any of the three teams a Pro Tour licence, leaving 19 teams amongst next season's elite. The licensing commission said that the positive test results given by Phonak's Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Perez and Oscar Camenzind in the latter part of this last season were not the main factor in them denying the Swiss team a licence. "More than the confirmation of the cases of doping of which certain members of the team had been suspected over recent months, it is the attitude of the management of this team with regard to these cases which led to serious reservations," said the commission. The 19 ProTour teams will now be granted four-year licences for the circuit, with the exception of Lampre (three years), T-Mobile and Illes Balears (two) and Fassa Bortolo (one). The 19 teams are: Quick Step (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto (Bel) CSC (Den) Illes Balears (Spa) Liberty Seguros (Spa) Euskaltel (Spa) Saunier Duval (Spa) Cofidis (Fra) Bouygues Tlcom (Fra) Fdjeux.com (Fra) Crdit Agricole (Fra) Gerolsteiner (Ger) T-Mobile (Ger) Domina Vacanze (Ita) Liquigas (Ita) Lampre-Caffita (Ita) Fassa Bortolo (Ita) Rabobank (Hol) Discovery Channel (USA)
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