Two Colombian teams will take the start of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge due to a new UCI regulation requiring events to invite them, but EPM-UNE Directeur Sportif Gustavo Carrillo wants to show that his team deserves the invitation because of their strength. The Gobernacion de Antioquia team already showed its worth in the Tour of Utah, taking second overall and three stages, and Carrillo wants to follow suit in Colorado.
"Our team has done some pretty big races in Europe and have done really well against top teams," Carrillo said. "I didn't want the organizations to invite this team based on a rule, but more because it is a really good team."
The Gobernacion de Antioquia team showed some of the talent of the Colombian scene to the world at the Tour of Utah where Sergio Henao placed second overall to winner Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack). In addition, the team won three stages, Cristian Montoya won the Best Young Rider and the Gobernacion de Antioquia won overall team competition.
EPM-UNE, fresh off a dominating performance in the Tour do Rio in Brazil, will send an equally talented team to Colorado.
The team recently secured the top four places in the Tour do Rio overall classification. Juan Pablo Suarez, the overall winner, and Eduard Beltran, who placed third, will take to the start in Colorado Springs on Monday. Joining them will be Giovanny Manuel Báez, who won the 2008 Vuelta a Colombia and the Vuelta a Guatemala last year, and Walter Fernando Pedraza, who won the King of the Mountain competition at the Vuelta a Colombia.
Edward Stiber Ortiz, Rafael Infantino Abreu, Freddy Orlando Piamonte and Robigzon Leandro Oyola round out the team.
"The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is exactly what these guys are good at with high altitude and mountain," he said. "I think this team will do really well. They might not win the overall but they are going to be animators, attacking in the mountains, going for special jersey's and team overall classification. They are excited about being invited and having more of a future at some of these bigger races in the US."
The UCI's America Tour invitation ruling
In January, the UCI informed Non-European event promoters of UCI classes HC, 1 and 2 level events, that they were obliged to invite the top three teams listed on a 'fictitious' ranking of each continental tour. It was reported that the ranking of teams was based on performances of riders in each team during the 2009 and 2010 season.
For the America Tour, the top three teams on the ranking included Colombia-registered UCI Continental teams Movistar, Gobernacion de Antioquia and EPM-UNE. Events obliged to invite these three teams included Amgen Tour of California, Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge along with the Tour of Elk Grove.
The ruling was based on code 2.1.007 bis, which states that, "the organiser of a class 2 event in the Europe Tour or any events in the America, Asia, Africa or Oceania Tours must invite the first 3 UCI continental teams in the classification by team for the relevant continental circuit published in the year of the event. This classification is elaborated on the basis of an assessment of the sporting value of the continental teams registered by the UCI administration. This classification will be used for all the invitations for that season."
"The rule is not really well written and not very clear," Carrillo said. "It's unclear when the ranking is taken from, last year, this year, monthly, and doesn't really take into account the global economy or situations for the teams or the events. But, this team definitely deserves to be invited based on the quality of the riders."
The top three teams currently leading the UCI America Tour as of August 15 were Clube Dataro de Ciclismo from Brazil, Movistar out of Colombia and Funvic-Pindamonhangaba also from Brazil. EPM-UNE is currently ranked fourth and Gobernacion de Antioquia is ranked ninth place. According to the 2010 standings, Funvic-Pindamonhangaba led the overall team ranking ahead of SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy and EPM-UNE.