Angelo Zomegnan, the director of the Giro d’Italia, has confirmed to Cyclingnews that the major race organisers and the UCI have reached an agreement that means the 18 teams awarded a ProTeam licence for 2011 will ride all the races on the World Tour calendar.
However he insisted that the still to be signed agreement is based on a 15+3 system to allow for any future reductions in the number of ProTeams in the sport. Under the bilateral agreement, the top 15 teams in the UCI sporting hierarchy automatically secure invitations to all the World Tour races, with up to three others teams decided by the UCI..
The race organisers are allowed to decide who to invite for the remaining places in races and are expected to award four wild card places in major stage races and up to seven in other races.
“I haven’t signed and returned the deal yet but we’ve reached an outline agreement and there are only a few bureaucratic details to sort out. The agreement is for a 15+3 system,” Zomegnan told Cyclingnews.
“The agreement means that in 2011 the AG2R, Quick Step and Euskaltel-Euskadi teams will ride all the WorldTour races along with the other teams. However the agreement does not mean that 18 teams will automatically have the right to compete in the all the races. The top 15 teams will have an automatic invitation but the other three will be based on sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria. Nobody will be able to let all their riders go after a successful season and still be sure of a place in the biggest races anymore.”
Long running dispute
The long running dispute between the major race organisers and the UCI has always been centred on the control of which teams and riders are invited to ride the biggest races, especially the Tour de France.
The teams and the UCI want to be able to guarantee major teams and sponsors a place in the Tour de France. However the Tour organisers ASO always tries to secure a minimum number of French riders in the Tour de France and tries to protect French teams. RCS Sport in Italy and Unipublic in Spain try to force teams to send their best riders to the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta, while also wanting the power to invite teams and secure advertising from their respective countries.
Both the race organisers and the UCI have refused to publish details of the agreement, but it seems the organisers have lost the final word on which teams are invited to their races. However, they could be protected by a clause that forces teams to field squads that include 50% of their total sporting hierarchy score.
Race organisers have to announce the teams invited to races no later than 60 days before the start. Zomegnan said he will confirm the 22 teams that will line up in Turin for the start of the 2011 Giro on March 6.