The UCI has confirmed that the Androni Giocattoli team has secured Professional Continental status for the 2017 season but has still not released a decision on Giuseppe Saronni’s TJ Sport team after sponsorship from China failed to materialise.
The UCI awarded 17 WorldTour licences and 20 Pro Continental licences on November 25. However, the positions of TJ Sport – known as Lampre-Merida in 2016 – Androni Giocattoli, and the Polish Verva Activejet team were deemed still under review.
The Italian team can now let out a sigh of relief but the future of the TJ Sport team has still to be confirmed despite the start of the 2017 season being only four weeks away. It is unclear if the Verva Activejet team is still trying to secure Professional Continental status or if it will accept the lower-level Continental status. The full list of Continental teams registered for 2017 has still to be confirmed.
Earlier this month, Cyclingnews revealed that the TJ Sport holding company in China had failed to guarantee any kind of funding, forcing team manager Saronni and so-called co-ordinator Mauro Gianetti to desperately search for new backers.
Help from bike sponsor Colnago has apparently uncovered a sponsor from Abu Dhabi that will cover a reduced budget of 8-9 million Euro. However, Saronni has refused to reveal the name of the backer and no details or confirmation emerged after a supposed UCI registration deadline of December 15.
Cyclingnews understands that Lampre will not come to the aid of the team despite being a long-time sponsor of the team, leaving Saronni, the riders and staff dependent on the confirmation of the Abu Dhabi sponsorship and approval from the UCI.
The UCI has always said the Licence Commission is continuing to consider the team’s WorldTour application but it is unclear if Saronni has managed to satisfy the Licence Commission’s requests for a sufficient bank guarantee, and sponsorship and rider contracts.