South African team Barloworld has made some last-minute changes to its racing programme: it will ride the upcoming Trofeo Laigueglia on Tuesday with a different team than the one planned, without leading sprinters Fabrizio Guidi and Robert Hunter. For the Italian one-day race, directeur sportif Alberto Volpi will have a young team with South African neo-pro John Lee Augustyn, Mauricio Soler, Diego Caccia, Gianpaolo Cheula, Paolo Longo Borghini, James Perry and Kanstansin Siutsou.
From Wednesday, February 21, a second squad of Barloworld riders will participate in the five-day Volta ao Algarve stage race in Portugal. Hunter and Guidi will be backed up by Pedro Arreitunandia, Giosué Bonomi, Ryan Cox, Enrico Degano, Alex Efimkin and Hugo Sabido.
"Changing the teams was a technical decision as we need our riders to compete in as many races to help them find and maintain their form," said team manager Claudio Corti. "Hunter and Guidi are better suited to ride the Algarve in Portugal, which is also a key market for our sponsor."
Corti complained that the latest road cycling reform by the UCI made it harder for so-called Professional Continental teams to find racing slots for their riders to compete. "We do not want to be penalised by the Italian race organisers for the late changes to our squad, but unfortunately the Professional teams face constant problems when planning their race calendar," he said. "This is caused by the current UCI rules and by the actions of some race organisers and the UCI’s refusal to intervene. The latest example of this was at the Tour Mediterranéen, where the maximum number of ProTour teams were not respected, and the Professional teams faced the consequences. There currently seems to be underlying issues and confusion within cycling and this is a concern to me and my sponsors."
Indeed, 10 ProTour teams participated in the Tour Med last week out of a total of 17, when the UCI only allows 50 percent of the total teams present at a Continental circuit race to be ProTour.