Wild card team hopes for upgrade from Pro-Conti ranks
The BMC Racing Team has stated its intention to move into the UCI's ProTour in 2011. The US-based team's Director John Lelangue said that the Pro Continental team would apply to the International Cycling Union (UCI) for the top-level next year.
"Nothing changes for us. We will continue to race as a Pro-Continental team and depend on wild card entries," Lelangue told The Australian newspaper. "We have a strong team for the Classics. I'm not afraid of our [racing] calendar for this year, but plan to apply for a ProTour licence for 2011."
The US-based, Swiss-backed BMC squad was boosted earlier this month when awarded status as a wild card Professional Continental team for 2010. The "wild card" tag ensures invitations to the UCI's ProTour and Historic calendar events, but is also an indication that the team has met the type of strict criteria that the UCI applies to ProTour teams.
BMC undertook an ambitious off-season recruitment drive, signing road World Champion Cadel Evans, George Hincapie and Alessandro Ballan. Evans made the move from Silence-Lotto; Hincapie transferred from Columbia-HTC, and Ballan made the move from Lampre, a team now fighting to keep its ProTour status.
Last week, the Italian team Lampre-Farenese Vini was granted a temporary ProTour licence by the UCI, due to "serious administrative non-compliances" in the annual re-assessment carried out by an independent auditor. The team's provisional status will expire at the end of March unless it meets the UCI's ProTour team requirements.
Should Lampre lose its ProTour license, the door may be open for another team. However, BMC will not seek to accelerate its plans for promotion to the ProTour as Lelangue believes the UCI is unlikely to make changes to the formation of the ProTour before next season. "If they lose their licence, I don't see them being replaced for the rest of this year," he said.
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