UCI president Hein Verbruggen tells the organisers of the three major tours they must decide quickly
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International Cycling Union president Hein Verbruggen has warned the organisers of the three major tours that they must commit to next year’s ProTour before the end of this month or risk not being part of the elite series in 2006.
Verbruggen met with representatives from the ProTour teams yesterday. Among the issues discussed was a proposal from Liberty Seguros team manager Manolo Saiz for the three major tours to have their own separate status outside the ProTour series. Saiz, who was one of the architects of the ProTour, also suggested that the obligation for the 20 ProTour teams to take part in every one of the 27 ProTour events be eased slightly, allowing teams to miss races where their sponsors had no interests and allow continental teams the chance to take their place.
Verbruggen described the lack of accord with the organisers of the three major tours as “disappointing”. “I am not looking for war with the Tour de France, but we have experienced eight very disagreeable months, and I don’t feel responsible for them. But the door is always open.”
A meeting is planned between the UCI and ASO, organisers of the Tour de France, once the Tour has finished in Paris. But Verbruggen issued a warning of what ASO can expect at that meeting, commenting: “The Tour keeps making new demands and we won’t accept any more watering down of the ProTour. If someone doesn’t want to be part of it then we are not going to force them.”