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ProTour director Alain Rumpf with UCI head Pat McQuaid.
French teams not strong enough, according to UCI
International Cycling Union (UCI) ProTour manager Alain Rumpf has commented on yesterday’s ruling that Cofidis and BBox Bouygues Telecom were unsuccessful in their bid to apply for new ProTour licences, confirming that the major consideration was about their ability to compete at the required standard. The two teams concerned are currently sitting 19th and 20th in the UCI World Ranking, below Professional Continental teams Cervélo Test team, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni and Acqua & Sapone.
“The major considerations were about sports [the sporting aspect],” Rumpf told Cyclingnews. “I can’t comment on their behalf, but they knew the rules and the evaluation criteria.”
He said that at the time of the interview, the UCI had not heard back from the teams concerned. Rumpf said that the teams were notified of the UCI’s evaluation about the sporting aspect and, “like the other teams applying, were offered the opportunity to defend their application” before the licence commission. That presumably meant that they had the chance to plead their case if they so wished.
Both teams have reportedly been told by Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) that they will be part of the lineup for the 2010 race.
Two other UCI licence commission decisions are likely in the near future. The first is the ruling on whether or not the new Radioshack team will be granted a first-time ProTour licence, as the Sky team was recently. The UCI press release issued on Tuesday said that it was continuing to examine the application submitted by the United States of America squad.
Rumpf didn’t indicate a timeframe for that news. “I don’t know when the decision will be made,” he said. “I know that the commission has asked for some clarifications from the team on certain aspects of its application file.”
The second matter being considered is if the Astana team will be permitted to continue as part of the UCI’s top-ranked series. It faced expulsion earlier this year but avoided that step when last-minute financial guarantees were made prior to the Tour de France.
However, as its president Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews recently, there is a chance that the expulsion process could be restarted if the team does not keep up with the schedule laid out to prove it warrants the licence. Those concerns were reiterated on Saturday.
Rumpf didn’t provide precise clarification as to what McQuaid was referring to. “There is no further news on Astana. The meeting took place in Lugano between representatives of the UCI and the Kazak cycling federation,” he stated. “I can confirm what Pat said, that this meeting didn’t help to clarify the situation and the UCI is concerned about the situation of this team. It is still monitoring it very, very closely.”
However he did state that the rumours that Alexandre Vinokourov might take up a management position were not those discussed last week. This appears to indicate that there are more areas of concern than that aspect alone.
Under the requirements of ProTour licence-holders, Astana plus all the other teams at that level face an annual review. They are required to submit their application files for 2010 by October 20th.
These include bank guarantees and details of contracts for riders and sponsors, and go to both the UCI and to Ernst & Young, the auditors charged with the task of evaluating teams.
“I don’t want to give any timeline but there will be further exchanges between the UCI and Kazakhstan about the situation of the team,” said Rumpf. “If the UCI feels that internal disputes within the team can damage the credibility of the team, the ability of the team to compete at the ProTour level, the UCI can decided to ask the licencing commission to resume the withdrawal procedure that was started earlier this year, and that has only been suspended in June because the news was better then.”
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