IAM Cycling founder Michel Thétaz has welcomed his team’s elevation to the WorldTour and said that he could not justify passing up on the UCI’s invitation to step up to the top flight after only 17 teams had initially applied for the 18 available places.
"I realize one thing: I could never have explained to our high-quality riders and motivated staff my reasons if I had refused to go into the WorldTour for 2015," Thétaz said in a statement released by the team. "The circumstances were favourable and to have had to tell my riders that they would not be going to the Giro again through a lack of an invitation would have pained me."
IAM Cycling was formed in 2013 and has competed at Pro Continental level for the past two years, earning a wildcard invitation to the Tour de France this season following the arrival of Sylvain Chavanel, as well as a place at the Vuelta a España.
Despite the squad’s progress, however, IAM’s management had initially decided against applying to move up to WorldTour level only for the merger of Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale – and the absence of other applicants – to force the UCI to seek candidates.
"Since only idiots refuse to change their minds, I decided to make the jump," Thétaz said. "We worked hard to be able to present a strong case to the Licensing Board, in spite of the fact that it was at pretty short notice."
Chavanel scored six wins for IAM in 2014, while Matthias Fränk claimed second place overall at the Tour de Suisse. At the end of the season, Matthias Brändle superseded Jens Voigt to establish a new world hour record.
Stepping up to compete at WorldTour level brings increased costs and Thétaz indicated that he would be open to talks with additional sponsors. "We are ready to play in the big leagues with an increase in numbers for both riders and support staff," he said. "Under these conditions, I am keen to talk with people who wish to help a team advocating a new cycling."
IAM Cycling were one of 16 teams confirmed as part of the 2015 WorldTour on Thursday evening. The UCI announced that a decision on Astana and Europcar’s registration was still pending and would be made by December 10.
Astana was called before the Licence Commission in November after a spate of positive doping tests in the past three months, while Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau revealed last week that his team is struggling to find the final 5% of its 2015 budget.