Race organisers reject Pro Tour

The difficult birth of the UCI's proposed Pro Tour circuit has been complicated even further as the

The difficult birth of the UCI's proposed Pro Tour circuit has been complicated even further as the
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Murmurs of discontent from race organisers about next year's introduction of the Pro Tour and the shake-up of professional cycling that it will bring about have burst into the open today. The organisers of the three major tours have written to International Cycling Union president Hein Verbruggen to inform him that they will refuse to take part in the Pro Tour in its current guise. "We have sent a letter to Mr Verbruggen to tell him that we will not associate ourselves with the Pro Tour in its current state," said Victor Cordero from the Vuelta organisers Unipublic. "We are not ruling out reforms altogether, because they are needed, but we are saying no to the Pro Tour circuit in its current form." The Vuelta's stance is backed by the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, as well as a number of other race organisations. Team managers at the Vuelta reacted with a mixture of surprise and glee to the news of the letter. Liberty Seguros boss Manolo Saiz, one of the architects of the Pro Tour, said "the position of the major tours is not absolute. They are open to negotiation, and in any case this not the final nail in the coffin for the circuit." CV-Kelme boss Vicente Belda, whose team have not been selected for the circuit, told reporters at today's Vuelta stage that the letter gave hope to all those teams who have been sidelined from the Pro Tour. The organisers objections to the Pro Tour are based on the apparent precedence of financial guarantees over sporting and ethical concerns when selecting teams for the Pro Tour. There are also concerns about teams having to sign up for four years to the circuit, effectively creating a closed shop at the top level of competition in the sport, and the increased power that the UCI will gain at the expense of the race organisers. All parties concerned will be meeting this coming week at the world championships in Verona to iron out what are evidently extremely diverging views.
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