Incycle-Predator Components, born out of the merger of two Southern California domestic elite programs, has been registered as a UCI Continental team in the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico for 2014 rather than the US, team owner Micah Cloteaux has confirmed to Cyclingnews.
Cloteaux, who owns a bike distribution business in South America and bought part ownership of Predator several years ago, explained that although the team is US owned, much of the its funding for 2014 comes from Puerto Rican sponsors, including Font Insurance, Hyundai San Sebastian and Cargo Risk Management.
The team had originally planned to remain with USA Cycling's domestic elite level next season but the Puerto Rican sponsors wanted to jump to Continental level. The sponsors increased their financial commitments toward the team's budget, and the team accepted the opportunity.
“I didn't look into this season with the intention of being pro,” Cloteaux said. “But a guy I know from Puerto Rico asked late in the season if we'd be interested. And I said, 'Yeah, if it's easy. But I don't know if we're ready or have the funding.' He asked if we'd do it if they put up the money and made it happen. I said, 'Yeah, we'll do it.'”
The team applied for Continental status earlier this year, Cloteaux said, and although it's waiting for final UCI approval of the team kit, it has received word that its application has been approved.
“We've gotten a letter saying we were in, and they cashed all the checks,” he said. “I'm pretty sure when they've cashed the checks it's a done deal.”
The 2014 roster includes nine US riders, two riders from Mexico, and one rider each from Puerto Rico, Australia, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela and Colombia.
Puerto Rico is a US territory, and residents there hold US passports, so all riders with US passports meet the requirement that 60 percent of a Continental team's roster have passports from the country of registry, Cloteaux explained.
“We abided by the US rules just to keep it kosher,” he said. “The only difference between us and any US team – we have the same rider balance, the same everything – the only difference is where our license is drawn. You could transfer that license to the US and we would qualify. So we definitely wanted to keep it inline and do everything by the book.”
Despite the foreign license, the team will focus on USA Cycling's National Race Calendar and National Criterium Calendar, as well as the USA Crits Series and select UCI races in South America, Central America, Asia and the Caribbean, Cloteaux said.
Because last year's elite team was able to compete in the NRC, NCC and lower-level UCI races, the 2014 race program will deviate only slightly from the team's previous schedule.
“We don't intend to do any races next year that we didn't do this year, except for maybe [the Tour of Taiwan],” Cloteaux said. “Our first race last year was the Tour of the Dominican. We raced in Puerto Rico; that's how we kind of got noticed and met some people down there. Our last race last year – and it will be again this year – was the Tour of Tobago down in the Caribbean. So a lot of our big races, and most of our UCI races, were down in the Caribbean and South America. And that hasn't changed.”
Cloteaux said his team doesn't have the budget or the qualifications to be in the big UCI 2.1 and 2.HC races in North America, and those are some of the only races a Continental team is allowed to compete in that an elite team couldn't. Amateurs are also not allowed in the US professional championships.
“The only North American UCI races that we did and were invited to were [Tour of] Quebec and [the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic],” he said. “So there's no real difference.”
In addition to the UCI squad, the organisation will also field a junior development and elite men's team.
Incycle-Predator Components for 2014: Emile Abraham, Jacob Arnold, Calixto Manuel Bello, Andres Diaz, Samuel Hunter Grove, Franco Font, Orlando Garibay, Stephen Hall, Sergio Hernandez, Rudolph Napolitano, Michael Olheiser, Diego Sandoval, Christian Leandro Tamayo Saavedra, Tyler Schwartz, Jonah Tannos, Euris Vidal