No ProTour for Bouygues, Cofidis as UCI refuses licences

But French teams can still expect Tour de France invite

French cycling teams Bouygues Telecom and Cofidis will not race on the ProTour circuit next season after the UCI, world cycling's governing body, refused to renew their licences.

The licence commission "has decided not to award a UCI ProTour licence to the French teams Cofidis ... and Bbox Bouygues Telecom", UCI said, without giving any details for the refusal.

Bouygues and Cofidis, two of four French outfits that competed in the ProTour in the 2009 season, are paying for their lowly world rankings (19th and 20th respectively) and the potential for future financial problems, a source close to the affair said.

The teams will, however, be assured of a starting place for next year's Tour de France, organisers of world cycling's blue riband event told AFP.

Cofidis includes French rider David Moncoutie, winner of the climber's jersey in the Tour of Spain, Remi Pauriol and up-and-coming Estonian Rein Taaramae in its ranks.

Bouygues Telecom has Pierrick Fedrigo and Thomas Voeckler, both stage winners on the last Tour de France, as well as French hopes William Bonnet, Cyril Gautier and Pierre Rolland, and Russian Yury Trofimov.

Bouygues manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau was defiant despite the shock news for his team, which has a total of 25 riders under contract.

"It will not stop us from riding and winning Tour stages," he said, adding: "They (the UCI) spoke to us about a sporting level that was not quite high enough."

Bernaudeau acknowledged that the decision would primarily affect the team's presence at foreign races, the first being the Tour Down Under in Australia in January in which all ProTour teams race.

"We'll ride a little less abroad. But French teams have already got a full national calendar."

The UCI also announced on Tuesday that it had awarded a four-year licence to the Italian Lampre team for the period 2010-2013. A second Italian team, Milram, received a licence for one year, valid in 2010.

The body, however, said it "continues to examine the file submitted by the new American team Radio Shack". A decision will be announced later.

© AFP 2009

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