The UCI has published its final list of Pro Continental licences granted for the 2012 season.
Some 22 teams will compete in the world governing body’s second tier next season, with some of the bigger teams hoping for invitations to WorldTour events.
Both the Dutch-based team, Project IT4I, better known as Skil-Shimano, and the French, Thomas Voeckler-led Team Europcar squad, had applied for top-tier ProTeam status, but were refused.
Team Europcar had raced as Pro Continental team in 2011, but performed strongly in the WorldTour events to which they received discretionary invitations, most notably the Tour de France, but also at Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine, all organised by the Armory Sport Organisation (ASO).
Team manager, Jene-Rene Bernaudeu, conceded as early as last month that Europcar would not gain WorldTour status in 2012, blaming the UCI’s protocol for assessing a team’s application partly on the strength of points won by its riders in the previous season.
“We’ve just finished a great season but we are victims of a points system. There is a global hierarchy, and we must respect it,” he told the team’s website.
Voeckler famously led the 2011 Tour for 10 days, while Pierre Rolland won the stage to Alpe d’Huez and the white jersey for best young rider. At Paris-Nice, Voeckler won the final stage on the Cote d’Azur, and finished second overall in both the points and king of the mountains classifications.
“We managed to have a fabulous season as a Pro Continental team and we hope to do even better in the 2012 season. We will be the first to ask for invitations for certain WorldTour events. Last year, I believe that in these races – in particular Paris-Nice, the Dauphiné and the Tour de France – we managed rather well,” said Bernaudeu
Project IT4I, racing as Skil-Shimano, also scored a number of notable successes in WorldTour events in 2011, most notably under the wheels of German sprint sensation, Marcel Kittel, who posted a stage victory at the Vuelta and four wins at the Tour de Pologne among 17 wins in his neo-pro season.
The Dutch outfit is likely to be renamed with the announcement of a title sponsor. Skoda, HP, Shimano, Pearl Izumi, and Felt have all pledged their support. Dutch sprinter, Kenny Van Hummel, will again lead the team, and will be joined by seven new signings, including the German, Dominic Klemme, and Leopard-Trek exile, Tom Stamsnijder, from Holland.
Fifteen teams had successfully registered for Pro Continental status in 2012 by November 2, including the Italian outfit, Acqua and Sarpone, United Healthcare, and the first Canadian team to race in the UCI’s second tier, SpiderTech powered by C10.
A further five teams were added to the final list at meetings of the UCI Licence Commission on November 18 and November 23, including the Hong Kong-registered Team Champion System squad, led by former world number one, Jaan Kirsipuu, now aged 42. Kirsipuu held the maillot jaune for five stages in the 1999 Tour, and captains the 16-strong squad, which includes four riders from Hong Kong.
UCI Pro Continental teams for 2012
Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda’s (Bel)
Acqua & Sapone (Ita)
Androni Giocattoli (Ita)
Caja Rural (Esp)
Champion System (Chn)
Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne (Fra)
Colnago-CSF Inox (Irl)
Farnese Vini (GBr)
Project 1t4i (Ned)
Team Europcar (Fra)
Team Netapp (Ger)
Team Type 1-Sanofi (USA)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator (Bel)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)