Team RadioShack and Sky could know as soon as Friday whether or not they will form part of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) ProTour in 2010. An independent ProTour licence commission is close to a decision on each of the eight teams who have applied, UCI's ProTour Manager, Alain Rumpf, told Cyclingnews.
RadioShack, Sky and Skil-Shimano have applied for new licences, while AG2R La Mondiale, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Lampre-NGC and Milram have all applied for renewal. The ProTour licence commission, who operate independent of the UCI, is currently making final evaluations on each team's eligibility.
"The ProTour licence commission has had three hearings so far and all candidates have been heard by the licence commission," said Rumpf. "We [the UCI] are expecting the first decisions to be made on Friday."
There are 13 teams who already have a licence for 2010. With the licence commission able to issue a maximum of seven ProTour licences, at least one of the eight teams is certain to miss out. "The UCI regulations limit the number of ProTour licences to 20, so the licence commission cannot issue more than that."
More than one team could miss out on a ProTour licence. The licence commission has the power to deny a licence to any team that lacks the qualifications for ProTour status.
"The licence commission has no obligation to issue 20 licences," said Rumpf. "So it could be that there are less than 20 ProTour teams for 2010, but this is up to the licence commission to decide."
The licence commission bases its assessment on three criteria: sporting, ethical and financial structures. The commission has strictly assessed each of the eight teams, including one-on-one interviews between the team managers and the UCI's anti-doping department.
"The licence commission looks at the quality of results the team has achieved in 2009, the riders on its team and, in the case of new teams, the quality of riders it has hired. The commission is also looking at what measures the team will take to ensure that there is no doping by its riders."
Rumpf emphasised that the financial stability of a prospective ProTour team was a key factor the licence commission's decision. "An assessment is made by the commission and a qualified accountant on the budget of the team, its sponsorship contract and the overall quality of the team's administration," he said. "We want to make sure that the teams have a sound operational structure in place to cope with being a part of the ProTour."
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