Team Rock Racing will be riding at the Continental level again in 2010, having been refused a Professional Continental licence by the International Cycling Union (UCI). At least one rider claims not to know or understand why its application for the higher class was refused.
The UCI did not comment on the grounds for the decision last week, with the official statement simply stating that the "the Management Committee rejected the registration of the US team Rock Racing." Nor has team owner Michael Ball or anyone else from the team management commented on the matter.
Jose Enrique Gutierrez, who joined the US-based team last season, told the French website Cyclismag.com, "I am very disappointed. As a team we were all very excited by moving up."
Ball "was doing everything possible. I can not say more because the UCI has given no explanation. We do not know what their decision is based on."
Other riders refused to comment, the website noted. They "confided their fears" in light of a lack of comment from the team management, but hoped nevertheless to continue riding this season.
Rock Racing brought in 10 victories last season, including the first stage of the Tour of California. It went through a number of changes over the year, hiring controversial sport director Rudy Pevenage, and releasing several riders for financial reasons. Several riders were shuffled back and forth between the pro team and the amateur squad.
Apart from financial problems, the biggest blow for the team came when 2008 US champion Tyler Hamilton tested positive for the banned steroid DHEA. He was given an 8-year suspension, as it was his second positive test, and chose to retire.