Pro Tour set for 20 teams

Demands for an increase in the number of teams competing in next year's Pro Tour have finally been a

Demands for an increase in the number of teams competing in next year’s Pro Tour have finally been a

PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE At a meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) yesterday it was decided to increase the number of Pro Tour teams to 20 instead of 18 for next season rather than wait until 2006 to make the change. The Association of Professional Teams (AIGCP) had been pushing for an expansion, because a number of major teams are not among the 17 already selected for next season’s Pro Tour. The three teams that are most likely to benefit from this concession are the newly unified Saeco-Lampre outfit, plus the French Bouygues Tlcom and Ag2r squads. There has also been some negotiation with the organisers of the major tours, who have been threatening to pull out of the Pro Tour if some of its conditions of entry were not changed. A request by race organisers to be able to maximise the number of riders from each team taking part races to seven or eight has been approved, although this restriction won’t apply to the three major tours. More announcements on the Pro Tour are expected later on Saturday when International Cycling Union president Hein Verbruggen is holding a press conference to launch the circuit.