Following the announcement by the International Cycling Union (UCI) last week regarding the attribution of ProTour licences based on a sporting criterion ranking, French team Francaise des Jeux has reacted "with surprise and incomprehension".
The squad directed by Marc Madiot found itself in 21st position on the newly-established classification, which calculates the points scored by the 15 best riders of each 2011 squad during the last two years. It is thus effectively out of contention in the running for a ProTour licence, as only the first 20 teams are being considered eligible (for 18 available licences) based on the new UCI regulations.
"It is with surprise and incomprehension that we have learned the UCI's decision not to grant a ProTour licence to the FDJ cycling team," Madiot said.
"We are now trying to understand our classification that is based exclusively on the sporting criterion. Our 2009 results left us in 16th position and after a mixed 2010 season, our 2011 recruits made us confident as to the attribution of the licence. During the next few days, we expect some clarifications from the UCI as regards the calculation method of the classification."
Even though the team will see the departure of Christophe Le Mével (to Garmin-Transitions) and Jussi Veikkanen (to Omega Pharma) next year, it has signed a regular winner in Pierrick Fedrigo (from Bbox) as well as such pronmising riders as Mickael Delage (from Omega Pharma Lotto) and Rémi Pauriol (from Cofidis). Frédéric Grappe, the outfit's trainer, was also puzzled as to the exact way of determining the value of a team roster.
"We haven't understood how the calculations are being done. Some rules seem unclear and it's a pity not to know the basic rules that have led to the calculation of points," he told Cyclism'Actu. "We didn't think that the new rules and the quality recruitment we've made for 2011 would leave us in 21st place..."
Moreover, the ranking may lead to a situation where only one French team will be awarded ProTeam status, thus creating a fierce battle for Tour de France wildcards amongst the remaining domestic Pro Continental teams. The final list of ProTeam licences is expected to be announced on November 20.