MAJOR TOURS SAY NO TO PROTOUR

UCI ProTour

The Tour de France and the other major race organisers in Italy and Spain will not join the UCI ProTour, ASO chief Patrick Clerc announced on Saturday.

"I can tell you that ASO (Tour de France organisers), RCS (Giro d'Italia organisers) and Unipublic (Tour of Spain organisers) will never join the Pro Tour," Clerc told reporters before the start of the seventh stage on Saturday.

"There will be no further discussions over a commercial system that is purely economic, closed and cut off from the outside world."

Talks between the big three race organisers, the UCI, team sponsors and team associations have been hot and cold and on and off ever since the season-long competition was created and first held in 2005. The intervention of major sponsors last winter sparked optimism that an agreement on financial and control of the ProTour could be reached but now talks are over and the future of the sport is up in the air.

The UCI could create their own alternative calendar and try and replace the major races, while the big three organisers may try and create their own independent racing calendar. Whatever happens it is another bad day for professional cycling and creates even more doubts about the future of the sport.

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