UCI announces continental teams

The UCI has announced the first 20 teams to have been approved for continental professional status,

The UCI has announced the first 20 teams to have been approved for continental professional status,

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The International Cycling Union has admitted 20 teams into next season's professional continental category, the level below the ProTour, including the British-registered Barloworld squad and the American Health Net and Navigators teams.

Six more teams have had their applications turned down for now, including Comunitat Valenciana, who have had similar bureaucratic problems in the past, and fellow Spanish squads Relax and Andalucia-Paul Versan. These six teams will be able to reapply for the category on January 17.

Comunitat Valenciana have admitted that they have recently delayed payments to their riders, but insist that any backlogs in salary payments have now been cleared. Team boss Jos Luis Aznar has told AS that the delay in admission to the continental category is due to the team's budget still needing approval from the regional government that backs the squad. He said approval should be given "within a week or two".

The teams approved for continental professional status are: Kaiku, 3 Molinos Resort (both Spa), Voralberg (Aut), Landbouwkrediet, Chocolade Jacques, Unibet.com (all Bel), Colombia-Selle Italia (Col), Agritubel (Fra), Barloworld (GB), Wiesenhof (Ger), Tenax (Ire), Panaria, Acqua e Sapone, Flaminia, Miche (all Ita), Skil-Shimano (Hol), Intel-Action (Pol), LPR (Swi), Health Net and Navigators (both USA).

The teams expected to reapply on January 17 are: Comunitat Valenciana, Andalucia-Paul Versan, Relax (all Spa), Androni Giocattoli (Ita), Elk Haus (Aut) and Naturino (Swi).

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