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Tour threatens pullout from ’05 Pro Tour

Tour de France organizers have threatened to pull out of next year's revolutionary new Pro Tour in a doping row with the UCI. The 2005 Tour is set to form a key part of a new grand-prix style cycling calendar running from March to October and comprising 28 races. But a rift has developed after the UCI refused to exclude two more riders from this year's Tour. Tour chief Jean-Marie Leblanc wanted them thrown out as part of a zero-tolerance policy for anyone caught up in doping probes. Leblanc said he had received information from San Remo's prosecutor's office that Czech rider Pavel

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By Reuters

Tour de France organizers have threatened to pull out of next year’s revolutionary new Pro Tour in a doping row with the UCI.

The 2005 Tour is set to form a key part of a new grand-prix style cycling calendar running from March to October and comprising 28 races.

But a rift has developed after the UCI refused to exclude two more riders from this year’s Tour. Tour chief Jean-Marie Leblanc wanted them thrown out as part of a zero-tolerance policy for anyone caught up in doping probes.

Leblanc said he had received information from San Remo’s prosecutor’s office that Czech rider Pavel Padrnos (U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor) and Italian Stefano Zanini (Quick Step) were involved in the same doping investigation that led to the exclusion from the Tour on Monday of Italian Stefano Casagranda (Saeco) and Slovenian Martin Hvastija (Alessio-Bianchi).

The UCI approved the exclusion of Casagranda and Hvastija but have blocked Padrnos and Zanini being thrown out. Zanini has already served a seven-month suspension.

Italian Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) was refused entry to the Tour before the event started because of his implication in a separate case.

Patrice Clerc, head of Tour promoters Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), said on Friday he had appealed the UCI decision to Vittorio Adorni, who heads their world council.

“There is a real conflict in the positions of the UCI and Tour organizers,” he said. “It has to be clarified in the next few weeks or ASO will not take part in the reorganization of cycling (involving the PRO Tour).”

UCI president Hein Verbruggen, meanwhile, says Tour organizers have overreacted.