Calendar Dictated by History, Tradition and Legend (Part
In this two-part article we look at the 2005 elite pro racing
calendar with a brief look back at how we got here. For your
convenience a Pro-Tour calendar summary is provided here: Schedule
day elite racing is a sporting art form continually evolving
with the latest technological advances in equipment, training
techniques and nutrition. In this respect the sport is very
much in tune with the 21st Century. Big money, big teams and
very serious sponsors embark on each new season with corporate
style planning to target very specific objectives. Very much
part of this environment is the all pervasive media. They pursue
the winners, losers, gossip and scandals with unashamed enthusiasm.
The riders in the big races cannot even take a nature break
without the chance of being spotted by a camera high up in
technology drives forward, the sport itself is rooted in history,
tradition and legends. Many of
the prestigious races
have a lineage stretching back 100 years or more. Lance Armstrong
proudly recognizes the Tour de France as his only objective.
For him the Tour is the pinnacle of the sport. If Henri Desgranges
(founder of the Tour) and Maurice Garin (first GC winner in
1903) were with us today they would have no trouble identifying
the modern Tour. As time has marched forward these great races
have seen World Wars and societal changes in ways unthinkable
at the dawn of the 20th Century. The races have adapted to
these changes yet retained their original concepts and character.
of Man and Machine on the open road remains the central theme
today. The most consistent aspect of the sport
just like their forbears, the riders put in extensive hours
of suffering in the saddle over all types of terrain and
through every conceivable type of weather. Lining the roads,
as passionate now about their sport as they were 100 years
annual elite racing calendar is dominated by race names that
our grandparents and great-grandparents would
There is no question what races really count. In single day
it is the “Five Monuments of Cycling” and in
stage racing it is the three “Grand National Tours”.
These events make or break riders, teams and reputations.
the pages of cycling history to find heroes and legends, names
like Anquetil, Coppi, Bartali, Merckx and
memorable images. Spectacular mountain climbs like Alpe
the Col du Tourmalet and the grand Galibier have provided
a natural theater for heroic accomplishments. Flat cobbled
the Wallers-Arenberg forest in Paris-Roubaix and murderous
cobbled climbs such as the Koppenberg and Mur van Grammont
in the Ronde
Van Vlaanderen strike fear into the hearts of riders. Millions
of fans flock to the roadside stadiums every year to witness
the next legend. Every year new stories are added to cycling’s
lexicon of fabulous tales chronicling these great races.
is so much more to the race schedule. All season long many
history rich races also pepper the calendar.
events like the Het Volk, Fleche Wallone, Amstel Gold,
San Sebastian or the Paris-Tours are identified as traditional ‘classics’ or ‘semi-classics’.
Tours such as Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Basque Country,
Castilla y Leon and Switzerland are significant events
of themselves. For many riders these single day events
and tours will deliver
them to the peak of their career. To the select few such
races represent the final stepping-stone to the very
top of the sport.
UCI plans its annual calendar and reward system,
it is this rich history that always dictates the coming
season. The fans and the media know very well where
will be. Before each event, the courses, the riders
and race history
are analyzed with great detail. Every year these great
races never fail to deliver a new and fabulous story.
At the end
of 2004 Paolo Bettini claimed his third overall UCI World Cup
victory. This unique achievement
as the UCI Pro-Tour will replace the World Cup in
2005. The Pro-Tour is designed to usher cycle racing into
strategies that address our modern high-tech global
village. In particular the sport must be aligned
with the demands
of powerful sponsors, the media, the needs of teams
and individual riders,
and yet retain the incredible character of the races
built over more than a century of cycle racing.
matter how the UCI addresses it, the Pro-Tour calendar is
driven by history, tradition and legend.
monuments are all there and at the time of year
that we expect them.
are the Grand Tours and many other lesser tours
and classics. Flanders, Roubaix and Liege belong to April.
impacted by the harsh weather of the north, these
each have a specific character driven by terrain,
weather and status. July simply belongs to the
Tour de France.
Likewise it is inconceivable to have the Tour of
Lombardy at any other
(or place) than the middle of October when leaves
umbrella competition to embrace the professional cycling calendar
was the Challenge
This ran from
1948 to 1958 and incorporated the Grand Tours
and Classics. Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet are two
of the great
names that spring
from the list of Challenge winners.
In 1961 the Super Prestige Pernod competition
took over from the Challenge and was a central
of the pro
up until 1987 when the UCI World Cup came into
being. The Pernod
list is a veritable who’s who of cycling
history. Merckx (7 wins), Anquetil and Hinault
(4 wins each), Kelly (3 wins),
Moser and LeMond.
Super Prestige Pernod gave way to the UCI World Cup there was
debate about the
The media then called for a more rational approach
towards the race calendar. Happily for the
fans (and nearly two
tradition has prevailed and with the first
Pro-Tour we will see our familiar three spring monuments
UCI World Cup initially comprised only a team competition.
It was not until 1989
the individual category,
which was won by the great Sean Kelly. However,
unlike its predecessors, the World Cup was
limited to single
only. Since then
the World Cup has been dominated by the cream
of the crop of one-day riders - Museeuw,
Bartoli, Tchmil, Zabel, Dekker
At the business
level the Pro-Tour is addressing complex issues designed to
ensure that our
great sport continues
There is still considerable refinement
required to come up with a formula that suits all
largely be achieved through 2005. Meanwhile
the integrity and character of the sport
from the strength
of its daunting history.
In part 2 our look at the 2005 racing season.