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New pro Tour dates released

The UCI announced 2005 dates for its new pro-Tour circuit yesterday following a comprehensive revamp of professional cycling designed to make teams and riders participate in events throughout the season.

The new Tour will have a league form, for 2005 there’ll be 18 licenced teams each of 25 – 28 riders and, crucially, team participation in each of the 28 Tour events will be mandatory. Moreover, every team fielded must include at least two of the team’s best five riders, clearly designed to ensure big name presence at all events and discourage specialization. Team licences could be revoked if they fail to uphold the criteria, such as finance and ‘ethics’, which will include a drugs code (proving awkward to finalise).

The reorganisation of the calendar means the end for the World Cup series, which will be merged into the Tour. Some current hors categorie races, like the Fleche Wallone and Gent-Wevelgem, will also be part of the new series along with the grand tours.
Races will be differentiated in terms of series points awarded – the Tour de France, for example, remains the world’s biggest race and the winner will get 100 points, twice that awarded for victory in a one-day classic. The calendar has also been reshuffled due to events overlapping (see below for full date details).

Needless to say, not everyone is wholly convinced about the changes. For events not included in the Tour it could mean a lower profile and it certainly requires a high commitment from the teams. But the UCI hope that the new Tour, by providing clearer rules and structure, will improve the image of the sport and ensure first class racing throughout the season.

2005 Pro Tour calendar


March

6-13, Paris-Nice (France)
9-15, Tirreno-Adriatico (Italy)
19, Milan-San Remo (Italy)

April

3, Tour of Flanders (Belgium)
5-9, Tour of the Basque Country (Spain)
6, Gent-Wevelgem (Belgium)
10, Paris-Roubaix (France)
17, Amstel Gold Race (Holland)
20, Fleche Wallone (Belgium)
24, Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Belgium)
26-May 1, Tour of Romandie (Switzerland)

May

7-29, Giro d’Italia
16-22, Tour of Cataluyna (Spain)

June

5-12, Dauphine Libere (France)
11-19, Tour of Switzerland
19, team time trial (Holland)

July
2-24, Tour de France
31, HEW Cyclassics (Germany)


August

3-10, Tour de Benelux
13, Clasica San Sebastian (Spain)
15-23, Tour of Germany

27-September 18, Vuelta a España


September

12-18, Tour of Poland
22, World time trial (Madrid)
25, World road race (Madrid)

October

2, GP Zurich
Oct. 9, Paris-Tours (France)
Oct. 15, Giro di Lombardia (Italy)

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