Acqua e Sapone to enter Pro Tour?

All eyes will be on the Swiss town of Aigle next Monday, when the UCI not only hears Phonak's appeal

All eyes will be on the Swiss town of Aigle next Monday, when the UCI not only hears Phonak's appeal
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE With Phonak preparing to appeal next Monday against the UCI's decision not to grant them a licence to ride in the Pro Tour, procycling has discovered that the Italian Acqua e Sapone team will also be meeting the UCI in the Swiss town of Aigle that same day to discuss its own Pro Tour aspirations. Acqua e Sapone team manager Palmiro Masciarelli told procycling this morning that the UCI had not given them any formal notice that they might be brought in instead of Phonak. They are, though, hot favourites to be drafted in if Phonak's rejection from the Pro Tour is confirmed on December 2. According to Masciarelli, he and general manager Antonello della Corte have been invited to Aigle next Monday to discuss what changes need to be made to their Pro Tour application dossier for it to be accepted. According to Masciarelli: "The UCI has just one real problem with our application, which is that the team contains just 23 riders (instead of the required 25). However, we do have the outline of an agreement with Giuliano Figueras and Pavel Tonkov to fill the two remaining spots, but won't commit on signing them until the UCI let us know that Acqua e Sapone are in the Pro Tour." Masciarelli confirmed this with Figueras's agent, Mauro Battaglini, yesterday. The UCI's other problem with Acqua e Sapone is that they haven't provided the 650,000 euro bank guarantee for a Pro Tour licence. However, della Corte says that he has a signed letter from his bank which says that they will release it as and when the team's Pro Tour future is known. Acqua e Sapone don't want to provide the guarantee itself yet because of the administrative costs involved in having it drawn up. Phonak team manager Urs Freuler, also contacted by procycling this morning, said that the Swiss team would make no further comment on the issue until after the hearing in Aigle on Monday. Sources close to procycling suggest that the UCI is insisting on a clear-out of Phonak's current management structure and medical staff before the Swiss team will be granted a Pro Tour licence.
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