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John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) salutes from the podium.
Third Dutch team to enter top league in 2013?
Professional Continental team Argos-Shimano is hoping to step up into the UCI World Tour as of next season. The Dutch outfit's management has recently sent in its application dossier to the world governing body of cycling in a bid not to rely solely on wildcard invitations to the greatest races anymore.
"It's the next logical step," team manager Iwan Spekenbrink told Dutch news outlet NOS. Argos-Shimano could thus become the third Dutch WorldTour team after Rabobank and Vacansoleil-DCM, but first it needs to pass the four selection criteria imposed by the UCI: one sporting, one financial, one organisational and one ethical. At the end of 2011, the outfit then called Skil-Shimano had already applied for the desired licence, but failed only by four points on the sporting criteria.
This year, Spekenbrink is hopeful that the increased rider points from the past season will be enough to enter the top league. "We hope that our results will get us a good placing," continued the Dutchman, who is still working on his final team roster for next season.
But the 22 victories scored by only two riders of the squad - Germany's Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb - will have pushed the outfit higher up in the UCI points rankings. Degenkolb moreover finished fifth in Milan-Sanremo, won five stages in the Vuelta and finished fourth of the Worlds road race in Limburg just recently.
As for further new additions to the team, Spekenbrink assured that he was "currently busy negotiating with a number of interesting riders. We expect to have between 27 and 30 riders for the upcoming season." At the moment, the team has let go of five of its 2012 riders: Dutchman Ronan van Zandbeek, French riders Thomas Bonnin and Alexandre Geniez as well as Germans Roger Kluge and Dominic Klemme.
At this time of year, calculating the points tally of the individual World Tour teams - which haven't finalized their rosters yet - can be interesting to assess a team's chances of remaining or entering the highest level of pro cycling. According to inofficial sources on the internet, Argos-Shimano would be ranked on the 15th spot of 18 available licences, topping even such teams as Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, whose star rider Alberto Contador did not acquire any points at all due to his recent doping ban.
"We only look at our own points," Spekenbrink however commented. "In November, the UCI will announce which teams have applied for a licence. Then it will announce the follow-up procedure. It's possible that we will only know in December if we get a licence or not."