A press release from the UCI sets out which teams have a World Tour licence for 2012 and which teams have applied to stay in the top flight and which teams want to renew their licence:
|Sky Pro Cycling
Next up are the teams applying to join the World Tour or to see their existing licence renewed:
|Omega Pharma-Quick Step
Project 1T4I is Skil-Shimano’s new identity. Of the existing teams, note “Radioshack-Nissan”. The squad appears settled on two names for 2012 after they tried to announce three. There is no mention of Trek right now.
Note the absence of existing World Tour squads Garmin and Movistar. What is going on here? It seems there are delays to the paperwork but fans will get nervous here, let us hope all is well. It’s no secret that Garmin has been hunting for a second sponsor.
The same is true for Geox-TMC which missed out before on the top flight, much to the frustration of the Italian sponsors. The squad has been busy hiring two Iranian riders largely to boost their points tally so I suspect this is again a question of paperwork, perhaps caused by delays in agreeing Juan-José Cobo’s future.
If we take the two lists in the tables above and combine them we have 18 teams meaning one place for everyone. But it’s not so simple. Once Garmin and Movistar submit their applications then two of the above teams could lose out, if Geox gets busy too then that means three in the tables above will get ejected.
Joining the top league depends on four criteria:
- ethical: means a good reputation and if some teams seem accident prone, there’s little evidence to nail team management.
- financial: this all about having visible funding in place and being able to lodge bank guarantees to ensure wage payments
- administrative: getting the paperwork in on time; Garmin and Geox might get a reduced score but it’s not a deal breaker.
- sporting: this is all about the rankings and rider points. The UCI uses an internal ranking system to calculates a team’s ranking, combining World Tour points with other results. The top 15 on the ranking are automatically approved but a team in 16-20th place gets a special review. Here Ag2R could fall flat as they’ve not scored that many points nor signed any riders with a sackload of points. And a team in 21st place or worse on the rankings is automatically failed. Frustratingly the methodology used for this sporting ranking is not made public.
Overall the registration system has just started and things are under review for now. For big teams having a World Tour licence guarantees entry into the big races including the golden ticket to the Tour de France.
Personally I’m not sure of the value for smaller squads, for example Ag2r have only five wins this year and could probably qualify for the Tour de France given their nationality, spending money on a licence that obliges them to race in Australia, China and other markets where the sponsor has no operations might not be ideal and they don’t seem to enjoy the big races. The same is perhaps true for Euskaltel-Euskadi although much of their secondary sponsorship (eg Kuota, Orbea etc) is probably keen on global exposure.
More paperwork will be lodged with the UCI in order to satisfy the criteria. 1 November is the day when the UCI will conduct its final internal review and the news of who is up and down, as well as in and out, should be confirmed soon after.