New Protour?

Cyclismag has picked up on the apparent scoop by Spanish website, where details of the revised UCI Pro Tour appear to have been leaked. Who leaked them and what’s their agenda? That’s for another day.

Since my French is better than my Spanish, what follows is derived from

The Teams
No more four year licences guaranteeing the holder a ride in the biggest races. Instead it will be based on the points earned by riders on the team, they will compete in races to gain entry, or sign riders with results and UCI points during the off-season. The Pro Tour of 2011 will therefore contain the strongest teams on paper, not those who bought a licence a while back. But any team with results this year will have to be careful, it is the riders who determine the points and so any rider leaving the squad will harm a team’s chances of being in the Pro Tour. The points in question will no longer be from the current UCI Pro Tour calendar but instead riders with points from the UCI’s Europe, Asia and America Tours will see their points included, although points won in the biggest European races will count more than the smaller events.

A team’s position will be based on its top 15 riders, to avoid a team entering the Pro Tour simply by signing one or two big name riders. This depth will force those who want to be in the big league to have a deeper roster. In addition, so as not to penalise riders who have an off season or struggle with injury, points will be carried forward over two years. So for 2011, a rider’s performance in 2009 will matter.

Continental Pro
Teams outside the Pro Tour will be called Continental Pro and here the bar will be raised in terms of administrative and ethical requirements, it looks to be like some of the Pro Tour standards will be applied here, including the bio passport. But there will be no selection criteria based on points, a second-league team can sign who it wants. But if it can’t clear the administrative and financial hurdles, it will have to go in the third level, Continental.

The oddest change is that an Continental Pro team wanting to ride a Pro Tour event will have a stock of 18 points per season. Each time they are invited to a race, they will forfeit some of these points. Apparently riding the Tour de France will “cost” nine points, leaving them another nine to use across the season. For me this will mean the smaller teams will have to be very selective in their racing, a French team might just be able to combine Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France but will have to think twice about the Dauphiné or another important but costly race.

Here’s the points table

9 Points – Tour de France
6 Points – Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Giro, Dauphiné, Tour de Suisse, Vuelta.
3 Points – Tour of Catalunya, Gent-Wevelgem, Vuelta Pais Vasco, Flèche Wallonne, Tour de Romandie, Clasica San Sebastián, Tour of Lombardy, Tour Down Under, Tour de Pologne, Vattenfall Classic, Eneco Tour, GP de Plouay, GP de Québec and GP de Montréal.

So any team doing the Giro and Tour double won’t be able to do the Vuelta or any of the one day Monuments.

What’s It All Mean?
The aim is to get a better spread of invites and to avoid situations where the likes of Team BMC and the Cervélo Test Team get invited to practically every race that counts without having to meet the Pro Tour standards, nor pay for a licence, a similar thing that the likes of Cofidis and BBox-Bouygues Télécom have exploited, riding many big races but free from the administrative and financial burden (NB: one man’s burden is another man’s safeguard).

Finally I’ll repeat this is all lifted from two websites, we’ll see what gets officially announced: here’s hoping this is more scoop than poop. But you heard it here first in English.

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