The UCI ProTour was a series of road bicycle races in Europe, Australia and Canada organised by the UCI (International Cycling Union). Created by Hein Verbruggen, former president of the UCI, it comprises a number of 'ProTour' cycling teams, each of whom are required to compete in every round of the series. It was initially the basis of a season long competition for rankings points, created for 2005 to replace the UCI Road World Cup series, which ended at the end of the 2004 season (although the World Cup did not include any stage races). The ProTour was the subject of continuing disputes involving the UCI, cycling teams, and the organizers of the world's most prominent bicycle races (most notably, the Grand Tours), and in 2009 and 2010 the ranking element of the ProTour was superseded by the UCI World Ranking. For 2011, the ProTour and World Ranking were fully merged into the UCI World Tour. ProTour status for teams – relabelled UCI ProTeams – will continue as the highest level of registration, and will carry the right and obligation to participate in all World Tour races.[1]

UCI ProTour
SportRoad bicycle racing
Founded2005 (2005)
No. of teams19 (Others invited on
race by race basis)
Alejandro Valverde (2008)
Caisse d'Epargne (2008)
Spain (2008)

Licensing edit

The ProTour licences are given to a maximum of 20 teams, to which sponsors must commit multiple years of sponsorship (4 years at the ProTour's inauguration). The exception to this rule was the Phonak team, which was given only a two-year licence due to previous doping allegations. Licence holders can apply for registration each year, which is dependent upon a check on contracts and budgets.

After 2005, the Fassa Bortolo and Domina Vacanze teams folded and the vacant places were given to AG2R Prévoyance and Team Milram respectively. Following the 2006 season the designated replacement principal sponsor for the Phonak Hearing Systems team, iShares, pulled its support as a results of the Floyd Landis doping scandal and the team was disbanded. The Cycling Team received Phonak's ProTour license, and the Swiss-based, Kazakh-backed Astana Team received the license previously owned by Manolo Saiz and his Liberty Seguros–Würth. and Discovery Channel discontinued after the 2007 season, bringing down the number of ProTour teams to 18. At the end of 2008, another two teams dropped out: Crédit Agricole and Gerolsteiner. Their licenses were taken over by Garmin–Slipstream and Team Katusha. Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Cofidis were denied licence renewals for the 2010 season, and new licences were given to Team Sky and Team RadioShack. Although Lampre–Farnese Vini had had its licence renewed until 2013, its registration (a separate process from licensing, concerning finances) for 2010 season was temporarily rejected, but restored after they had missed one race. UCI bylaws were later changed to require a team to be registered before its license is granted or renewed, to avoid a repeat of this situation.

History edit

Season-long competitions for professional road racing were first instituted in 1948, and continued until the late 1980s when the UCI instituted the UCI Road World Cup series which ran until 2004.

In replacing the World Cup, the ProTour was designed to follow the format of the Formula One motor-racing series, and was intended to address several concerns:

  • The Grand Tours were not part of the UCI Road World Cup series
  • Different riders and different teams targeted different types of races, making direct comparisons difficult
  • Team sponsorships tended to last only a very few years
  • Many teams had financial difficulty in paying their riders and staff members
  • Several teams had been plagued by doping issues

The UCI lobbied the organizers of the Grand Tours to participate in the ProTour, and was successful in obtaining their agreement despite prior disagreements and threats to completely pull out of the ProTour.

The ProTour has been criticized for not having a system in place for a timely upgrade and downgrade of teams from/to the lower-tier UCI Continental Circuits.

UCI versus Grand Tour organisers edit

Originally, UCI and the organisers of the Grand Tours had been unable to come to terms on the 2006 UCI ProTour, with the result that the status of both the Grand Tours and some of the other races organised by those organisations behind the Grand Tours was unclear until well into the season, but they were eventually included.

During the 2007 UCI ProTour season, the ASO, RCS and Unipublic, organisers of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España respectively, remained at odds with each other. The primary reason was that grand tour organisers wanted more freedom to invite popular national teams (e.g., UCI Professional Continental teams) and the right to exclude some UCI ProTour teams such as Failure to achieve agreement lead UCI chairman Pat McQuaid to send a letter in February 2008 to all professional teams urging them to boycott Paris–Nice because it was an 'outlawed' race. In response, the AIGCP (Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels) announced that the teams had unanimously decided to take part in Paris–Nice, the organisation of which was to be taken over by the French Cycling Federation.[2] Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere commented: "I'm more than fed up with all the arguing. ASO and UCI don't know how much damage they are doing to the sport. What am I supposed to tell my sponsors? This conflict has been going on for three years and is escalating all the time. Can the teams be certain that they will be able to take part in the Tour de France later in the year?".[3]

From 2008, the ProTour was largely devalued by the withdrawal from its calendar of the three Grand Tours, namely the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, as well as the early-season stage race Paris–Nice and key single-day events such as Paris–Roubaix, Milan–San Remo, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, La Flèche Wallonne and the Giro di Lombardia.

On 15 July 2008, the 17 ProTour teams participating in the 2008 Tour de France announced that none of them would seek ProTour licenses for the 2009 season,[4] but in the end all but two of them re-committed[citation needed]. In 2008 the Tour Down Under in Australia became the first ProTour event to be held outside Europe.

In 2009 UCI and organizers had agreement that events will be counted towards UCI World Ranking, which also included, in its first two seasons, Professional Continental teams. Grand Tour organizers kept the right to choose teams for the races, and also some of the teams chose not to race certain races. From 2011, all races on the World Calendar, those that yield World Ranking points, are to be classified as World Tour events, and the Pro Tour as a distinct series of races is to be discontinued.

Events edit


  •  : Included in ProTour
  •  : Race held, but not as part of ProTour
  • N/A: Race not held, or not as elite professional race
Date Race Country Type 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Mid-late January Tour Down Under   Australia 1-week stage            
Early-mid March Paris–Nice   France 1-week stage            
Early-mid March Tirreno–Adriatico   Italy 1-week stage            
Mid March Milan–San Remo   Italy 1-day            
Mid May (2005–2009)
Late March (2010)
Volta a Catalunya   Spain 1-week stage            
Late March – early April Gent–Wevelgem   Belgium 1-day            
Early April Tour of Flanders   Belgium 1-day            
Early April Tour of the Basque Country   Spain 1-week stage            
Early April Paris–Roubaix   France 1-day            
Mid April Amstel Gold Race   Netherlands 1-day            
Mid April La Flèche Wallonne   Belgium 1-day            
Mid-late April Liège–Bastogne–Liège   Belgium 1-day            
Late April – early May Tour de Romandie    Switzerland 1-week stage            
May – early June Giro d'Italia   Italy 3-week stage            
Early June Critérium du Dauphiné   France 1-week stage            
Mid June Tour de Suisse    Switzerland 1-week stage            
Mid June Eindhoven Team Time Trial   Netherlands Team time trial      
July Tour de France   France 3-week stage            
Early-mid August Deutschland Tour   Germany 1-week stage        
Mid August Clásica de San Sebastián   Spain 1-day            
Early-mid September
(Early August from 2009)
Tour de Pologne   Poland 1-week stage            
Mid-late August
(Early August in 2005)
Eneco Tour   Belgium
1-week stage            
Late August – September Vuelta a España   Spain 3-week stage            
Late August (2005–2010) GP Ouest-France   France 1-day            
Late July (2005–2006)
August – September (since 2007)
EuroEyes Cyclassics
(former HEW / Vattenfall Cyclassics)
  Germany 1-day            
Early-mid September Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec   Canada 1-day  
Early-mid September Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal   Canada 1-day  
Early October Züri-Metzgete    Switzerland 1-day    
Early-mid October Paris–Tours   France 1-day            
Mid October Giro di Lombardia   Italy 1-day            

History of team participation edit

Dark grey indicates that the team was not operating in the year in question. Mid-grey indicates that the team was competing at a lower level in the year in question.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Bouygues Télécom Bouygues Télécom Bouygues Télécom Bouygues Télécom Bbox Bouygues Telecom Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Cofidis Cofidis Cofidis Cofidis Cofidis Cofidis
Crédit Agricole Crédit Agricole Crédit Agricole Crédit Agricole
Davitamon–Lotto Davitamon–Lotto Predictor–Lotto Silence–Lotto Silence–Lotto Omega Pharma–Lotto
Discovery Channel Discovery Channel Discovery Channel
Domina Vacanze
Euskaltel–Euskadi Euskaltel–Euskadi Euskaltel–Euskadi Euskaltel–Euskadi Euskaltel–Euskadi Euskaltel–Euskadi
Fassa Bortolo
Française des Jeux Française des Jeux Française des Jeux Française des Jeux Française des Jeux Française des Jeux[5]
Gerolsteiner Gerolsteiner Gerolsteiner Gerolsteiner
Illes Balears–Banesto[6] Caisse d'Epargne–Illes Balears Caisse d'Epargne Caisse d'Epargne Caisse d'Epargne Caisse d'Epargne
Lampre–Caffita Lampre–Fondital Lampre–Fondital Lampre Lampre–NGC Lampre–Farnese Vini[7]
Liberty Seguros–Würth Liberty Seguros–Würth[8]
Liquigas–Bianchi Liquigas Liquigas Liquigas Liquigas[9] Liquigas–Doimo
Phonak Phonak
Quick-Step–Innergetic Quick-Step–Innergetic Quick-Step–Innergetic Quick-Step Quick-Step Quick-Step
Rabobank Rabobank Rabobank Rabobank Rabobank Rabobank
Saunier Duval–Prodir Saunier Duval–Prodir Saunier Duval–Prodir Saunier Duval–Scott[10] Fuji–Servetto Footon–Servetto–Fuji
T-Mobile Team T-Mobile Team T-Mobile Team[11] Team High Road[12] Team Columbia–High Road[13] Team HTC–Columbia
Team CSC Team CSC Team CSC Team CSC[14] Team Saxo Bank Team Saxo Bank
AG2R Prévoyance AG2R Prévoyance AG2R Prévoyance Ag2r–La Mondiale Ag2r–La Mondiale Ag2r–La Mondiale
Team Milram Team Milram Team Milram Team Milram Team Milram
Astana Astana Astana Astana Cycle Collstrop
Slipstream–Chipotle Slipstream–Chipotle Garmin–Slipstream Garmin–Transitions
Team Katusha Team Katusha
Team RadioShack
Team Sky
BMC Racing Team BMC Racing Team BMC Racing Team BMC Racing Team
Vacansoleil Vacansoleil
Shimano–Memory Corp Skil–Shimano Skil–Shimano Skil–Shimano Skil–Shimano Skil–Shimano

UCI ProTour winners edit

Year Top Ranked Individual Top Ranked Team Top Ranked Nation
2005   Danilo Di Luca (ITA)
Team CSC   Italy
2006   Alejandro Valverde (ESP)
Caisse d'Epargne–Illes Balears
Team CSC   Spain
2007   Cadel Evans (AUS)
Team CSC   Spain
2008   Alejandro Valverde (ESP)
Caisse d'Epargne
Caisse d'Epargne   Spain

In 2009 and 2010, the season-long competition element of the ProTour was replaced by the 2009 UCI World Ranking and the 2010 UCI World Ranking.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ VeloNews Confusion continues as ProTour teams will start all 26 races in new UCI World Tour".
  2. ^ Cycling teams to take part in Paris-Nice (in Dutch)
  3. ^ UCI asks teams to boycott Paris-Nice (in Dutch)
  4. ^ Agence France-Presse, 15 July 2008. "17 teams will not seek ProTour licenses for '09" Archived 18 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Later in the season known as FDJ
  6. ^ Later in the season known as Illes Balears–Caisse d'Epargne
  7. ^ Later in the season known as Lampre–Farnese
  8. ^ Later in the season known as Würth
  9. ^ Later in the season known as Liquigas–Doimo
  10. ^ Later in the season known as Scott–American Beef
  11. ^ Later in the season known as Team High Road
  12. ^ Later in the season known as Team Columbia
  13. ^ Later in the season known as Team Columbia–HTC
  14. ^ During the season, the team's name changed to CSC–Saxo Bank

Bibliography edit

External links edit