Relief for some big names in the peloton as the UCI gives them approval for the Pro Tour, but others
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The International Cycling Union has announced today (Wednesday) that it has provisionally accepted four more applications for entry into next season’s Pro Tour. The groups given the go-ahead are Omega Pharma-Lotto (Bel), Euskaltel (Spa), Liquigas (Ita) and the Silver Team group (Ita) that rides under the Fassa Bortolo marque. The UCI said that it had received 31 applications for the 18 Pro Tour places available next year. The addition of today’s four means that 17 teams have now been cleared for the Pro Tour next season, assuming that they pass the requirements on financial guarantees and roster numbers. This information must be supplied to the UCI in November. The UCI’s press release stated that consideration had been given to a request from the Association of Sporting Groups (AIGCP) to increase the number of teams in the Pro Tour to 20. However, the UCI has decided to stick with its initial plan of starting the new top level structure with 18 teams. No indication was given as to who would be offered the 18th and final place. Among those teams still waiting to find out whether they will be given the nod to join cycling’s elite next season are Bouygues Tlcom, Saeco and CV-Kelme. The prospects of the latter two do not look good as, according to the UCI’s previous guidelines, the Pro Tour already has sufficient teams from Spain and Italy. This leaves Bouygues (currently riding as Brioches La Boulangre) as the most likely candidates for the 18th place.