UCI CONFIRMS 18 TEAMS FOR 2009 PROTOUR

The UCI has confirmed that both the Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Euskaltel teams will part of the ProTour in 2009.

The UCI initially announced sixteen teams but added Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Euskaltel after further examination of their requests.

The UCI have also given ProTour status to the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race, taking the number of ProTour races to 14.

In 2009 the ProTour events will run along side a world or historique calendar that will include the Tour de France, Giro d?Italia, the Vuelta Espana and other one-day classic races run by the big three organisers.

The 2009 ProTour will begin with the Tour Down Under in Australia on January 20. Following the demise of the Tour of Germany, the Tour of Poland will move to early August, while the final ProTour race is the GP Ouest Plouay in France on August 23.


TOUR DOWN UNDER ON VERSUS

Lance Armstrong‘s comeback is creating extra interest for cycling in the USA. The cable channel Versus has announced they will show highlights from the first five stages of the Tour Down Under and the final stage on January 24 will be shown live on the channel?s website.

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen are expected to commentate on the race. Broadcast rights could mean the race coverage is only visible to US residents.


LESS CLIMBS, MORE COBBLES FOR THE 2009 TOUR OF FLANDERS

The 2009 Tour of Flanders will have one less climb but an extra seven kilometres of extra cobbles, organisers have announced.

The slightly adjusted route of the 93rd edition of the spring classic will include 16 climbs instead of 17 with a total of 28km of cobbles. The race distance of 260km has been kept the same by increasing the neutralised section to eight kilometres.

The 2009 race will be held on April 5, a week before Easter, with the start again in Bruges and the finish in Meerbeke, west of Brussels. Quick Step’s Stijn Devolder won the 2008 Tour of Flanders but is expected to face major competition from rivals Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert.


SAXO BANK TO COMBINE DAMSGAARD AND UCI TESTING

Bjarne Riis? Saxo Bank team will continue have an independent anti-doping programme supervised by Dr Rasmus Damsgaard in 2009 but will work with German company PWC and the UCI to avoid any duplication of testing and reduce costs.

In the last two years the team has worked with the Bispebjerg Hospital in Denmark, who carried out the collection of blood and urine samples. The testing will now be done by PWC, while Damsgaard will carry out the analysis work on the results to spot any signs of doping.

The Saxo Bank data will also include that collected by the UCI for the Biological passports to rationalise the number. The number of tests riders will face during the year will remain the same but the changes will allow the team to save money after recently losing second sponsor IT Factory.

?In future Team Saxo Bank riders will be tested in the same way and to the exact same extent, but as all tests will be handled by PWC there won’t be any unnecessary double testing and in the long run our original program will be fully integrated with UCI’s and I will still be able to refine it,? says Rasmus Damsgaard said in a team press release.

RELATED LINKS

Hauled over the Kohl

Tour of Flanders sportive