UCI President Brian Cookson has told Cyclingnews that he has not received a WorldTour application from the prospective Fernando Alonso Cycling Team (FACT), and does not expect that the team will ride in cycling’s top tier in 2015. With the deadline for ProTour applications passing on October 1st Alonso will have to wait another year to apply for a top level licence. However, Cookson still remains positive that we will see them race next season.
“We haven’t had anything from them about the WorldTour,” Cookson told Cyclingnews at the start of Il Lombardia. “We’re still waiting for further information from them, I think it’s still possible for them to have a ProContinental team for next year, but we’re still waiting for that information.”
Alonso and his team were very vocal in the early part of this season with the addition of Paolo Bettini as team manager. However, the team has been more conspicuous in their absence in recent months. At the end of September, it was announced that Alonso had joined forces with sport investment management company Novo, which renewed hope that they might be able to secure a ProTour licence. Cookson says that the UCI has done what they can and that it is now up to Alonso to make the next move.
“We’ve provided him with every bit of information that is needed and we look forward to hearing of his plans when he’s ready to tell us more about them,” said Cookson. “He’s often said that he’d be quite happy to come in at the ProContinental level and build from there and that makes a lot of sense to us.”
Nathan Pillai of the Novo management company confirmed that no WorldTour licence application had been made. "That is correct, we did not apply for a WT license," he explained. However, he insisted that it would not undermine their intentions to create a team for 2015.
Astana and the MPCC
Maxim Iglinskiy’s recent positive for EPO has reignited the discussion about how the MPCC can fit into the UCI regulations. Iglinskiy’s brother Valentin also tested positive last month. He eventually confessed and was sacked from the team, Maxim is currently awaiting the results of the B sample, but is expected to make a full confession on Monday, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
The announcement means that the team will have had two positive tests in six months, which – under MPCC rules – means that they would have to miss the next race, the Tour of Beijing. However, under UCI regulations the team can be sanctioned for missing a WorldTour event. Last season AG2R La Mondiale missed the Criterium du Dauphiné for the same reasons, but the UCI chose not to hand the team a penalty. Cookson said that no decision had been made on the Astana case.
“It’s something that we’re still in discussion about. We’ll see what happens,” he told Cyclingnews. “UCI rules are rules and the team’s commitments to the UCI are commitments. MPCC is an advisory body, so they need to discuss and consider the implication. But I need to emphasise that UCI rules are the rules.”
With the decision process regarding the awarding of ProTour licences coming up, Cookson also hinted that it could affect the team’s chances for 2015. “Two doping positives in a year is a serious matter and something that the licence commission will be taking account of.”