Three Pro Conti teams win preferred status

Three Pro Continental teams at ProTour level in 2010, fewer ProTour teams

Three Professional Continental teams will have the right to participate in 2010 ProTour races. The International Cycling Union (UCI) is to allow top-ranked teams - Diquigiovanni, Cervélo and Acqua e Sapone - race entry in favour of fewer ProTour teams, according to a Cyclingnews source.

The UCI will take the top three Professional Continental teams in the World Rankings and allow them to race in cycling's ProTour-ranked races, including Ronde van Vlaanderen, Dauphiné Libéré and Tour de Suisse. Two Italian teams, Diquigiovanni and Acqua & Sapone, and Swiss Cervélo TestTeam lead the classification as of September 21.

"It's a justified rule, finally the UCI put in place this rule," Diquigiovanni's team manager, Gianni Savio, told Cyclingnews. "Racing the big races should not just be up to a team putting in a large sum of money."

The decision would go along with the UCI offering fewer than 20 ProTour licences, said Cyclingnews' source. There are currently 15 teams with a ProTour licence for 2010, including Sky, Garmin and Columbia. Lance Armstrong's RadioShack team has also applied for a new ProTour licence, while Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Lampre-NGC and Milram have requested renewals.

"Look at the world rankings and the rankings in Grand Tours, there are teams that we call ghosts because we never see them," continued Savio. "They are only there because they have put in the money. Rankings should be considered only after ethical and financial controls."

Cycling has three levels of professional teams: top-level ProTour, Professional Continental and Continental, respectively.

The UCI guarantees a team with a ProTour licence participation in ProTour races. The 2010 ProTour races are: Tour Down Under, Volta a Catalunya, Gent-Wevelgem, Ronde van Vlaanderen, País Vasco, Amstel Gold Race, Tour de Romandie, Dauphiné Libéré, Tour de Suisse, San Sebastián, Tour de Pologne, Vattenfall Cyclassics, Eneco Tour, GP Plouay, GP Québec and GP Montréal.

The UCI started the ProTour system in 2005.

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