Argos-Shimano, Lotto Belisol and FDJ celebrate WorldTour licences
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Argos-Shimano, Lotto Belisol and FDJ celebrate WorldTour licences

by VeloNation Press at 1:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Reactions from three teams given green light today

John DegenkolbDutch squad Argos Shimano is today celebrating its first WorldTour licence, stepping up to the top level of the sport after several years building towards that position.

It was one of five teams ranked sixteenth to twentieth in the UCI’s sporting hierarchy, with four of those  fighting for three available licences. [Note - Europcar stated it did not intend to take out a ProTeam licence despite being in that top list - ed]. However with the top fifteen-ranked Katusha team being denied a place for as-yet unspecified reasons, all four of those teams have got the nod: Argos-Shimano joins Lotto-Belisol, FDJ and Saxo Tinkoff as UCI ProTeams.

Argos Shimano general manager Iwan Spekenbrink has waited a long time to be in this position and now with a four year ProTeam licence secured, he is able to celebrate the result. It gives his team guaranteed access to the sport’s top races, including the Tour de France.

“Team Argos-Shimano represents an innovative and modern top sport project, in which we take the responsibility of coaching our talented athletes totally and in all respects; a method that has been successful in other sports and will undoubtedly be applied elsewhere in cycling,” he said.

The team received wildcard invites to many top WorldTour races last year, including the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España and while it was unable to get a stage win in the former, it clocked up five stages with John Degenkolb in the latter.

Spekenbrink believes the team is clearly able to compete well at that level and said that a lot of hard work has led to this point. “This World Tour licence is a reward for the combination of a strong group of riders and innovative coaching staff, who have managed to get into the World Tour through their own efforts,” he stated.

He believes much more is to come. “The granting of this licence is also certainly what our faithful sponsors deserve. They have enabled us to achieve this and really believe in using a sustainable policy like ours in building a top sporting organisation. The World Tour licence puts us in position to consistently continue our policy in the next few years, and so keep on growing.”

Lotto Belisol’s sporting manager Marc Sergeant is equally pleased that his squad will also be part of the top tier of teams. It had a ProTeam licence this year and so remains at the same level rather than coming from Pro Continental status, like Argos-Shimano.

“Any other decision would have surprised us, we were very hopeful that we would get a licence,” said Sergent. “It took a while before the UCI decided, we are now at about five weeks before the start of the season. As a team we were really looking forward to this good news, now we can fully work on next season.

“That we can ride all WorldTour races is reassuring. For all riders, staff and sponsors this is excellent news. It is also good for Belgian cycling. It was almost unthinkable that Lotto Belisol wouldn't have got a licence.”

Like that squad, Mark Madiot’s FDJ team also had a licence last year and obtains another now. The Frenchman said that the team would remain fully committed to doing things the right way, pointing to its membership of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) as a sign of that.

“We are very satisfied to obtain the UCI license and we will continue on our chosen path in the WorldTour, both from the sporting point of view, and from the point of view of ethics with the support of the MPCC and new proposals for FDJ.

“I have chosen to focus on the training of young talents and that today confers the tremendous potential of Team FDJ.”

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