The dispute between the ASO and the UCI has turned the UCI Pro-Tour series into a provberial non-event, with few cycling fans knowing (or caring) who heads the Pro-Tour rankings.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

Does anyone know which cyclist is leading the much heralded UCI Pro-Tour - more importantly does anyone care?

It wasn't that long ago (last year) when the Pro-Tour was regarded as the series to end all series - one which produced cycling's greatest all-rounder.

Well, it has fallen from grace with a big thud!



Cadel Evans was the last man to win the UCI Pro-Tour, and rightly so for his performances over the multi-race series - a highly rated series which included all three Grand Tours, namely the Giro, Le Tour and the Vuelta, and prestigious one-day events such as the Paris-Nice and Paris-Roubaix.



Sadly, these events - and many others - are omitted from the 2008 Pro-Tour.

The ugly dispute between Tour de France organisers ASO and cycling's world body the UCI, has turned the Pro-Tour into an insignificant circus and a series no rider worth his salt is fussed over anymore.

This is because not all registered pro-riders are eligible of competing in the Pro-Tour as some are linked with teams which have non Pro-Tour status.

Case in question are LPR Brakes, Slipstream Chipotle and CSF Navigare - all are registered second-tier Continental teams and therefore are not allowed to race as one of the official 18 teams contracted to race the Pro-Tour.

I use the term "second-tier" loosely.

These teams are brimming with talented riders and operates on annual budgets of several millions of dollars.

They survive by entering races on invitation and by earning wild cards in big races.

LPR Brakes relies on the services of Danilo Di Luca, (ironically a former UCI Pro Tour winner himself) and Paolo Savoldelli.

David Millar, Magnus Backstedt, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie headline Slipstream's roster.

As for CSF Navigare - Emanuele Sella is their revelation.

This plucky Italian has provided the lift world cycling has been looking for over the last two weeks.

Back home the Tour Down Under is regarded as Australia's biggest cycle tour - there's no question with its place on the local calendar.

But to market the race as a UCI Pro Tour (as it was this year) brings little value to an event which heavily relies on state government funding and the backing of locally-based coroprate sponsors.

The profile of this year's Tour Down Under was raised by the presence of all UCI Pro-Tour teams, but the event was badly let down by the lack of depth and talent in some of the squads. - particularly the European teams.

Take the Tour of California for example.

This is a race which is growing and gaining international status year by year, yet there are no immediate plans to file for inclusion in the Pro-Tour.

Why?

Because a Pro Tour-registered ToC will prevent race organisers from inviting the teams and riders which will ideally suit the US market for which this race serves.

Cycling has been damaged by the bickering and politics of the two biggest governing bodies - ASO and UCI.

Podcast: video highlights of every stage of the 2008 Giro d'Italia

It's a tug-of-war which serves no benefit to anyone - least of all the riders.

All they want is to race and win, no matter who is running the sport.

For the record, Italian Damiano Cunego leads the UCI Pro-Tour rankings from German Andre Greipel with Alberto Contador in third place. Cadel Evans is 9th.