Eric Boyer, manager of the Cofidis team, still hopes to return to the first divison of professional cycling for next season. The French squad was relegated to the Professional Continental level this year but is 19th in the new UCI sports criterion ranking that will be a key factor in determining who secures a place amongst next season's group of ProTeams.
"Until Tuesday this week, I had very little hope to make it back into the ProTour next year, but now that the UCI has revealed that it recalculated the riders' points for the last two years, I have hope again," Boyer told Cyclingnews on Thursday as he travelled to the official celebration of the Coupe de France series won by his rider Leonardo Duque.
"I now await the UCI's decision on November 20 feeling that we still have a chance. Cofidis is the best (ranked) French team, so I conclude that our work during the last two years hasn't been so bad. The team is in contention for a licence against teams like Euskaltel-Euskadi, Geox and Quick Step (ranked in 16th to 18th position respectively), but it could also secure a place if one of the top 15 teams in the UCI's sporting criterion ranking does not fulfill the financial, administrative and ethical criteria.
"The sports ranking is important, but so is the evaluation of the teams in the light of ethics. And if one of the other teams does not comply with the other license criteria, its slot will become available," Boyer said. "Until now, only four teams have been given the green light for their 2011 ProTour spot: Garmin, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Rabobank and Sky."
French teams face a fight for race invitations
Boyer admits that the low ranking of French teams in the UCI's ProTour sporting criterion could mean the teams will have to fight for wild card invitations to major races in 2011. Cofidis is ranked 19th, AG2R is ranked 20th, FDJ is 21st, Saur-Sojasun is 22nd and Europcar (that replaces BBox Bouygues Telecom, is 27th.
"If there is no French team in the 2011 ProTour, we would have to completely re-think our situation together with the other teams," Boyer said, on the hypothesis that neither his team nor AG2R will secure a place next season. "It would be very bad. We would all depend on wildcards for the Tour de France, and this would create tension and problems."
Boyer added that the ethical assessment of the teams was also an important factor, and that the Cofidis team's record would be untarnished, unlike other teams.
"I know that the ethical criterion is also very important in the allocation of the licence, and positive doping cases mean teams lose points on the ethical agenda for three years. With Cristian Moreni, who was positive in 2007, Cofidis lost points every season until this year. however in 2011 the team has all its points." Boyer pointed out.