Union Cycliste Internationale president Pat McQuaid unveiled the organisation’s 2008 ProTour calendar at a press conference during the World Championships in Stuttgart.

McQuaid and the UCI have created a new ProTour calendar for 2008 that begins with the Tour Down Under on January 22 and ends with a one-day final race on October 5. An organiser for this race has still to be found.

According to the 2008 ProTour calendar (see below), there will be a total of 70 days of racing. The dates avoid most clashes between ProTour races and historic races organised by the ‘big three’ – the organisers of the Tour de France (ASO), Giro d’Italia (RCS) and Vuelta a Espana (Unipublic). The only clash comes in September when the Vuelta (Aug 30-Sept 21) coincides with the Tour of Germany (Aug 29-Sept 6) and the Hamburg Vattenfall Cyclassics (Sept 7).

The three major stage races and the historic Classics such as Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Fleche-Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Paris-Tours and the Tour of Lombardy will be part of the separate Europe Tour calendar and held on their traditional dates.

The dates seem to satisfy both the UCI and the major race organisers except for one point: The UCI are insisting that the Tour de France automatically give places to the 18 ProTour teams. The Tour de France has already said this will not happen and will invite the teams based on ethical and sporting standards.

?I have letter dated September 5 that states clearly that all three major organisers don?t want to be part of the ProTour in 2008 or ever. It?s time we accept that and find an arrangement for them, so we develop a different ProTour with a different concept,? McQuaid said.

?There?s huge potential to develop cycling. We?re in contact with the Chinese government to create a legacy event for the Olympic Games and they?re really interested in a Tour of China and are ready put big money and big sponsors behind it. It?s the same in Russia. Vladimir Putin himself is the one who?s instigated for a ProTour team and event in Russia. We should respond to that and work with people who want to work with us.?

?The Giro and Vuelta wanted free selection of the teams for their races and so let them do it. There?s no desire to make problems for anybody. We would hope they?ll accommodate us and we?ll accommodate them. There?s no conflict or desire to damage races. Our interest is to create calendar for cycling. The ProTour teams have their choice. They ride the ProTour races they are committed to and then they ride other events they want to ride. There are overlaps there always are but there won?t be purposely built overlaps with strategic events to try and bury the other events. We consider we?re being pragmatic.?

2008 PROTOUR CALENDAR
Tour Down Under AUS 22-01-2008 -27-01-2008
Ronde van Vlaanderen BEL 6-04-2008
Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco ESP 7-04-2008 12-04-2008
Gent-Wevelgem BEL 9-04-2008
Amstel Gold Race NED 20-04-2008
Tour de Romandie SUI 29-04-2008 4-05-2008
Volta a Catalunya ESP 19-05-2008 25-05-2008
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré FRA 8-06-2008 15-06-2008
Tour de Suisse SUI 14-06-2008 22-06-2008
Team time trial NED 22-06-2008
Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian ESP 2-08-2008
Eneco Tour - 20-08-2008 27-08-2008
GP Ouest France – Plouay FRA 25-08-2008
Deutschland Tour GER 29-08-2008 6-09-2008
Vattenfall Cyclassics GER 7-09-2008
Tour de Pologne POL 15-09-2008 21-09-2008
Finale / final tbc 5-10-2008

World Championships and Olympic Games
Olympic Games – ind. RR CHN 13-08-2008 13-08-2008
Olympic Games – ind. TT CHN 9-08-2008 9-08-2008
World Champ. – ind. TT ITA 25-09-2008 25-09-2008
World Champ. – ind. RR ITA 28-09-2008 28-09-2008

Races entered on the UCI Europe Tour calendar
Paris – Nice FRA 9-03-2008 16-03-2008 Hors Classe
Tirreno – Adriatico ITA 12-03-2008 18-03-2008 Hors Classe
Milano – Sanremo ITA 22-03-2008
Paris – Roubaix FRA 13-04-2008
La Flèche Wallonne BEL 23-04-2008 Hors Classe
Liège – Bastogne – Liège BEL 27-04-2008
Giro d’Italia ITA 10-05-2008 1-06-2008
Tour de France FRA 5-07-2008 27-07-2008
Vuelta a España ESP 30-08-2008 21-09-2008
Paris – Tours FRA 12-10-2008 Hors Classe
Giro di Lombardia ITA 18-10-2008