The UCI Licence Commission yesterday announced the teams granted 'wild card' status for the 2009 season. This gives these squads the chance to race in ProTour events despite not being registered as ProTour outfits.
The 13 teams granted wild card status are:
Vorarlberg - Corratec (Aut), Landbouwkrediet - Colnago (Bel), Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator (Bel), Andalucia - Cajasur (Spa), Contentpolis - AMPO (Spa), Barloworld (GBr), Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce (Irl), ISD (Ita), Skil - Shimano (Ned), Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (Ned), Cervélo TestTeam (Swi), BMC Racing Team (USA), Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli (Ven)
These teams aren't guarantee a start in some of the year's biggest races, although the possibility exists for race organisers to invite any of the above squads to their events specifically under the wildcard banner. The UCI also made it clear that, "Teams with a wild card label are obliged to participate in the biological passport programme, which includes making a financial contribution and agreeing to provide athletes whereabouts".
This is good news for Irish-registered Italian squad Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce, whose manager Roberto Marrone recently spoke of the possibility the Italian national champion's jersey - worn by one of his riders, Filippo Simeone - would be at the Giro d'Italia in May. This latest development is another step towards being invited to Italy's national tour.
"It is with great satisfaction that we learn that the UCI awarded our team one of 13 wild cards for the 2009 season," said Marrone in a statement. "This award certifies the quality of our team on the basis of sporting, ethical and financial requirements, and puts us in the equation to be included in the biological passport program. We await with confidence for invitations to the most important competitions in the world."
Contentpolis AMPO manager Jose Antonio Ortuño was also pleased with the announcement - his team has been gradually working towards this point for several seasons, and it now has the chance to be invited to the Vuelt a España, amongst other events, later in the year.
"For us it is great news, because having passed the UCI Licensing Committee's ethical, administrative and bureaucratic requirements of the sport means that Contentpolis AMPO is equated to the UCI Pro Tour teams," said Ortuño. "It allows us to choose to race within that circuit under the blessing of the UCI. In turn we'll be linked to the 'biological passport'. This award also indicates the hard work we are doing for our team and cycling in general."