ONE Pro Cycling have submitted an application for a UCI Professional Continental licence for 2016, and could become the first British team to join cycling’s second tier.
The team, which was founded by former England cricketer Matt Prior, started out in February this year at Continental level but is moving fast and has even loftier ambitions of competing in the Tour de France in the future.
Over the past months, the team’s performances on the road, along with its commercial and structural prospects, have convinced Prior that now is the right time to look to make the step up.
They finished a close second at the UK-based Tour Series, Peter Williams also won a stage and was third overall at the UCI 2.2 Baltyk-Karkonosze race, while Jon Mould, Chris Opie and Marcin Bialoblocki are currently first, third and fourth respectively in British Cycling’s rankings.
"After a successful and hugely enjoyable first season we feel now is the right time to start the process to attain UCI Pro-Continental status," said Prior. "The last five months has been about establishing the team at Continental level and putting in place a sustainable commercial strategy. Having achieved this we feel we have the correct structure in place to take the step up to the next level.
"Our decision is partly based on the success ONE Pro Cycling has seen in the saddle, but also due to the enormous support the team has received on the roads over the past five months and through our growing membership scheme. There is huge enthusiasm for cycling in the UK and the sport continues to grow in popularity – if successful, this move keeps us at the heart of it.
"Today’s announcement is hopefully another small step towards our long term ambition to participate in the biggest races in the world including the Tour de France."
Although Team Sky compete at WorldTour level, they went straight into the top tier after forming in 2009 and ONE Pro could be the first British outfit to attain Pro Continental status. However, there could be two next year, as fellow Continental outfit NFTO outlined their own ambitions to make the step up earlier this year, based on a new sponsorship deal with Aberdeen Asset Management.
Cyclingnews has contacted NFTO, who are yet to reply. The deadline for applications is August 1.