The 2008 UCI ProTour breaks new ground with the Tour Down Under in Australia getting the nod for a January 22 kick off. Unfortunately the ballyhoo about the TDU getting the status at the Congress in Stuttgart in Germany in Septenmber has failed to ignite the top professionals going to Aussie land. They have stayed put in Europe despite the inclement weather.


(Picture from Graham Watson‘s website)

According to the race’s official start list the stars of the peloton will not be in the race and the majority of the 18 ProTour teams on the start line will be supplemented by cyclists who rarely make it into the top events on this side of the globe.

Australian competitors who race regularly in Europe will not abdicate their responsibility to participate in the TDU. Cadel Evans has declared that he will not be starting despite the fact that he was the overall winner of the ProTour last season. Citing that he has the Tour de France as his major objective for the coming season.

Local hero and Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O’Grady, rival Robbie McEwen, who leads the Silence-Lotto team and Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert of Francaise des Jeux will be the mainstays of the TDU.

As President of the UCI Pat McQuaid was instrumental in arranging to have Australia included in the Protour. He envisaged that the TDU would add to the UCI’s global plan to make the PRO better known throughout the cycling world. Notwithstanding this minor set back, in years to come Australia and other parts of the globe will be organising ProTour events in countries where cycling at the moment is on the back burner.


(Picture from Graham Watson‘s website)

The TDU is a well-organised race but the 2008 start list clearly falls well short of the status that it occupies in the pecking order in relation to European events.

Quiet rightly the UCI are aware that a child creeps before it walks! There are rest my case.

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