By Tomas Nilsson
By climbing to the tenth position in the latest Pro Tour rankings, Switzerland might get a nine man team to the World Championships road race, unless Ukraine (Gustov, Popovych and Gonchar) can bounce back in the Clasica San Sebastian, the only remaining Pro Tour race before August 15. The margin is a narrow seven points.
The UCI nations ranking by August 15 decides the numbers of participants for each country for the men's road race at the World Championships. The top ten nations on the Pro Tour ranking are qualified for nine riders (down from 12 in recent years). For the next levels of participation, six or three riders, the position on the respective Continental tours decide the numbers of participants. But that means that a nation like Switzerland, with most of its good riders in Pro Tour teams, might have a problem qualifying at all. Switzerland is ranked so low on the European Continental Tour that it isn't qualified for a team. Only one Swiss rider would then be allowed to start, since the nation has riders in the top 200 of the individual Pro Tour rankings which allow for one spot in the World's road race. Ukraine, on the other hand, is qualified for a three man team from the European tour.
Norway's Thor Hushovd will anyway most likely be a lone rider since Norway hasn't qualified from the European Continental Tour. The 16 top nations under those from the Pro Tour will field teams. Norway is in 18th position among these. But Hushovd's, and by all means Kurt-Asle Arvesen's, positions in the individual Pro Tour rankings allows for one rider, most likely Hushovd. Estonia and Luxembourg are in similar situations.
For other nations, the system means that the riders in Continental Pro and Continental teams qualify their nations on the various continental rankings. But then the riders in the Pro Tour teams will most likely start in the race. Denmark, for instance, is for the moment qualified for six riders thanks to the efforts of Anders Lund, Martin Pedersen and Jacob Moe Rasmussen of Team GLS, while the World's squad most likely will be dominated by riders from CSC and other Pro Tour teams.
There are still a number of races counting in the rankings this coming week end, plus ongoing stage races Volta a Portugal and Regio Tour. But the only possible change seems to be that an Austrian team might replace Croatia from Europe. On other continents, the Tour de la Guadeloupe is the only qualifying race but the situation there doesn't suggest any changes.
From continents outside of Europe South Africa, Burkina Faso, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Japan, Uzbekistan and New Zealand will field teams while Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico are qualified for one rider each.
Also see: Nations rankings