UCI releases evaluation of WorldTour applicants sporting criteria, 1T4i misses out
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

UCI releases evaluation of WorldTour applicants sporting criteria, 1T4i misses out

by Ben Atkins at 11:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Top fifteen teams qualify; remaining five teams fight for three ProTeam places

uci worldtourThe International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced the results of an evaluation of the teams applying for 2012 ProTeam status, according to its sporting criteria. The evaluation, based on the performances in 2010 and 2011 of each team’s best fifteen riders signed before October 20th, is the first stage in the decision-making process for the awarding of ProTeam status.

In addition to complying with ethical, financial and administrative criteria, the top fifteen teams in the sporting evaluation are deemed to be worthy of a position at the sport’s top table, while the next five will have to hope that they can make the grade through a more detailed assessment from the UCI License Commission.

The UCI has produced two lists, the first list includes the names of the 15 top teams in terms of sporting value, while the second is the next five that will have to wait and see.

Included in the top-fifteen is the new Australian GreenEDGE team, which has been enthusiastically recruiting many of the sport’s top Australian riders, as well as many talented foreigners. Points from riders like current HTC-Highroad rider Matt Goss, whose 2011 results include Milano-Sanremo and a World championship silver medal, have proved enough to put the ambitious new team into the top level of the sport in its first year.

Some teams, like Omega Pharma-Quick Step (currently Quick Step) and Vacansoleil-DCM, could be considered lucky to make it into the top list, since they finished outside the top-fifteen of the 2011 WorldTour classification. Vacansoleil-DCM likely owes a vote of thanks to the disappearance of the current RadioShack team (its sponsors and a number of riders are transferring to the Leopard Trek team in 2012, to form RadioShack-Nissan) and HTC-Highroad, while Quick Step’s signing of riders like World time trial champion Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer have helped it to escape the consequences of two ordinary seasons.

Conversely, the Lotto Cycling Project (currently Omega Pharma-Lotto) can probably consider itself a little lucky to hold its place in the top division – even though it was the number one team in the WorldTour this year – after losing World number one Philippe Gilbert to BMC Racing.

Since the UCI has presented the list alphabetically, it is not possible to see which teams are the strongest and which have only scraped in.

Who makes the step up in 2012?

The two current ProTeams to miss out on automatic qualification are AG2R-La Mondiale and Euskaltel-Euskadi, both of whom have endured disappointing seasons. The only French team in the 2011 WorldTour took very few victories this season, with stages in the Giro d’Italia and Tour of Beijing the highlights, while the Basque team picked up a number of high-profile stage victories but failed to deliver in the overall standings of the big races.

Of the 2011 Professional Continental teams hoping to make the step up to ProTeam status in 2012, none makes the top-fifteen. Since none of these teams had the access to as many of the big races, this fact is hardly surprising.

European Tour winner FDJ makes it to eighteenth on the list, while Team Europcar just scrapes into the top twenty, despite its talismanic leader Thomas Voeckler’s stellar performance in the Tour de France.

Missing from the list entirely is Dutch team Project 1t4i, which is currently Skil-Shimano, who had hoped to step up from its ProConti status in 2012. Although prodigal German sprinter Marcel Kittel has taken an incredible seventeen victories in his first professional season – five of which came in WorldTour races – the signing of riders like Patrick Gretsch and John Degenkolb from HTC-Highroad has not been enough.

UCI Communications Director Enrico Carpani confirmed to VeloNation that this was the case. “That’s correct, Project 1t41 did not make the top 20,” he said.

While this will doubtless be a disappointment for the ambitious Dutch team, its proposed schedule does allow for missing out this time.

"With promising cyclists such as Marcel Kittel, John Degenkolb, Alexandre Geniez, Patrick Gretsch and Tom Veelers, the team has a good future in addition to a strong basis,” reads a statement on the team’s website. “In the coming period, the team will be further reinforced. The goal is participation in the Tour de France and all other big races. Project 1t4i expects to be a World Tour team in the new season or 2013."

The team will also enjoy the position of one of the biggest ProConti teams, and should be assured a number of wildcard invitations in 2012.

The most controversial inclusion in the sixteen to twenty list though, is that of Geox-TMC. A Vuelta a España victory from Juan José Cobo is apparently good enough to rank the Spanish team seventeenth, but the fact that it lost its main sponsor at the end of last week surely means that its application will go no further than this early stage.

Carpani confirmed to VeloNation that the sporting criterion was separate from any other consideration.

“That Geox-TMC features on the top twenty is only an expression of the sporting worth of the team based on the contracts which were submitted prior to Oct. 20th,” he said. “No other reading should be made.”

Three into four for the final places

The UCI has set the maximum number of ProTeams to eighteen and, assuming that the teams on the top list meet the ethical, financial and administrative criteria, they should take the first fifteen places. Assuming that Geox-TMC is unable to find a replacement sponsor with the necessary commitment to fund a WorldTour team, or if time folds entirely, there are effectively four teams chasing the final three spots.

France only had one team in the 2011 WorldTour, but now looks assured of having at least two in 2012. Of the three French teams in contention, AG2R La Mondiale could well be in the most danger of missing out; the initial sporting criterion is based on pure statistics while, during the next stage, the UCI will look deeper into the circumstances of the team’s results during the season.

As a ProTeam, AG2R La Mondiale rode all of the races in the WorldTour, including all three Grand Tours, giving it access to the biggest races, and therefore more theoretical opportunities to score big points. The fact that FDJ and Europcar missed out on many races, including the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, means that they both managed to do better with less.

Euskaltel-Euskadi is in a similar situation to AG2R La Mondiale and, should it miss out, Spain would be the one reduced to only one team at the top level, in Team Movistar.

The UCI will make its next announcement on November 1st, when it will announce the awarding of the 2012 ProTeams that have met all if its criteria, as well as the teams to have Professional Continental status next year.

List 1: the top fifteen teams (in alphabetical order)
Astana Pro Team
BMC Racing Team
GreenEdge Cycling Team
Katusha Team
Lotto Cycling Project
Movistar Team
Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
Saxo Bank Sungard
Sky Procycling
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

List 2: teams ranked 16th to 20th
16. AG2R La Mondiale
17. Geox-TMC
18. FDJ
19. Euskaltel-Euskadi
20. Team Europcar


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