Who is up and who’s down? In a press release issued last night 17 teams have applied for a World Tour licence in 2016 and some 20 have applied for a Pro Continental licence to ride in cycling’s second division knowing they’ll collect plenty of wildcard invitations for the big races.
No surprises but Dimension Data are not on the list for a World Tour spot but as we’ll see below, there’s a special procedure available if they, or anyone else, still fancies a promotion.
Several reader questions by email and Twitter following yesterday evening’s announcement. Here’s a Q&A on the teams, timing and more.
Yes, there are no new applicants for the World Tour in 2016 so all the existing teams are seeking a one year renewal. Get this licence and these teams ride all the races on the World Tour calendar and can be invited to others too.
Does 17 matter?
The World Tour is capped at 18 teams and having 17 won’t change the racing, there will not be fewer teams in a race. An event can just issue more wildcard invitations to Pro Continental teams to ensure a full startlist, eg 17+5 for the Tour de France instead of 18+4.
Structurally there is a problem. The World Tour is supposed to be the UCI’s prime calendar but we still we have 17 teams chasing 18 places. Many prefer the second division knowing they can still ride the top races. They’re like passengers booking economy tickets knowing the premium cabin is so empty there’s a good chance they’ll get upgraded to first class throughout the season.
Is there room for an 18th team?
Yes. There was talk of MTN-Qhubeka, to be renamed Dimension Data, joining the World Tour but they’re on the Pro Conti list. There’s still a chance to move up as this rule makes clear:
IAM Cycling used this last year to make a late bid for a World Tour licence. Whether Dimension Data needs to move up is another question, they got plenty of invites this year, won and animated many races and with Mark Cavendish they’ll have even greater chances of being invited where they like.
Are the 17 licences automatic?
No. Some teams can be granted a licence for several years but they are still subject to annual review. The UCI has four criteria: sporting, ethical, administrative and financial and a team with a multi-year licence still has to meet these. As long as it meets these basic criteria renewal is automatic. Everyone else sees their file go in front of the UCI’s Licence Commission for a more detailed review.
What’s happening to the World Tour in 2016?
Not much, it’ll be a lot like 2015. It’s in 2017 that the UCI reforms are coming with teams being awarded three year licences, although presumably with some annual checks.
The UCI press release mentions Cannondale Pro Cycling Team but this doesn’t signal Garmin is walking away: this time last year the UCI’s list also mentioned Cannondale Pro Cycling Team and during 2015 we knew this as Cannondale-Garmin. What seems more likely is that Tinkoff team listed is just that, “Tinkoff” which is signalling Saxo Bank finally leave the sport, following the exit of Bjarne Riis and also Lars Seier Christensen, co-founder of Saxo Bank and cycling supporter, has stepped down from the company too.
Among the Pro Continental ranks is Team Tharcor, a mysterious name but it’s Team Southeast. Is it because the squad is being registered offshore again? There is a “Tharcor Limited” registered as a company in Ireland and the team, in previous incarnations, has used a registered office in Britain to dodge Italian payroll taxes, perhaps they’ve gone Irish now?
Also Europcar become Direct Energie and Bretagne-Séché Environment become Fortuneo-Vital Concept (an online bank and a farm supplies company).
“Roth-Skoda” and “Delko Marseille Provence KTM” are new for 2016. Both are continental teams wanting to move up. It’s a substantial leap, arguably more than going from Pro Conti to World Tour as it means going from almost unregulated to suddenly meeting a range of UCI rules on staffing, budgets and more.
Several teams are missing from the UCI’s press release. Team Colombia are not there for example but they weren’t last year either but still got a licence to ride for 2015, perhaps they’ve got paperwork problems again? The same for Drapac who have completed their paperwork now but didn’t sort the bank guarantee in time for the UCI so they were missing off the list.
We are still on track to get Pro Continental status next year. We just need to do some additional paperwork. #KeepCalm
— ActiveJet Team (@ActiveJetTeam) October 7, 2015
Polish and British Continental teams ActiveJet and One Pro Cycling are also said to be looking to move up but are not on the list. Again there’s time to sort the paperwork out.
That’s not very professional is it?
The UCI’s list is publicly shaming those who did not get their paperwork in on time. The admin requires a deadline but it seems teams can miss the deadline and still qualify, in other words the timetable is flexible. There has to be better way to do this for the both the UCI and the teams.
Is there a cap of Pro Continental teams?
No, only the World Tour imposes a maximum of 18 teams. For cycling’s “second division” there’s no limit on the number of teams. None of them qualify automatically to ride a race, they are all invitees to a race.
What does it cost?
For 2016 the cash fee is €76,125 for a World Tour team; €16,000 for a Pro Conti team. There are more costs involved like a bank guarantee to cover the wage bill and all the costs of complying with the rules.
The UCI will evaluate the applications and there will be more news later this month or in early November for those with clean files. If there’s anything awkward or complicated some teams might see the process continue into December.
A lot of technical issues above but 2016 is going to look a lot like 2015. There’s still time for a team to consider joining the World Tour but the cost vs. benefit isn’t so obvious. What’s welcome is seeing more teams for the Pro Conti ranks and it’ll be even more encouraging if additional teams come good with the paperwork to swell the ranks further.
Any more questions on the teams for 2016? Ask below in the comments.