The UCI today released its top 15 teams according to its sporting criteria, a calculation of points accrued during the 2010 and 2011 seasons by riders which are included in their 2012 rosters. These teams will automatically earn WorldTour licenses if they meet the UCI's other licensing criteria.
A notable absence on the list of teams 16th-20th in the rankings, who will vie for the final three of the 18 spots on the WorldTour, is the Skil-Shimano team, Project 1t4i, the only team which had applied for the WorldTour but failed to make the list.
Teams outside the top 20 cannot be considered for the WorldTour. Skil announced it would end its involvement with the squad, but the team will continue with a new title sponsor that will not be announced until the Spring.
The UCI's press release listed teams in alphabetical order, with Euskaltel-Euskadi as the only team in the top 15 in the 2011 UCI WorldTour team rankings to drop out of the list of squads which get automatic bids toward the 2012 top tier.
The Basque team is reportedly fighting for its existence as its sponsorship deal runs out at the end of 2012, and should it fail to make the WorldTour, finding new funding will be more difficult.
The new GreenEdge team showed its recruiting prowess by making the top 15 on its first go, while the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team, 16th overall in the 2011 WorldTour teams, moved up in the rankings after acquiring Omega Pharma from its Belgian rivals Lotto and hiring many of the HTC-Highroad riders.
The remainder of the Lotto team, which finished the 2011 season on top of the rankings thanks largely to Philippe Gilbert's dominance, was gutted during the transfer season but remained in the top tier.
Interestingly, Geox-TMC is listed along with Euskaltel-Euskadi, AG2R La Mondiale, FDJ, and Europcar amongst the five teams fighting for the nod for the final three positions in the WorldTour, despite the exit of its title sponsor.
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani indicated that the Geox team's fortunes aren't assured. "That Geox features in the top 20 only means at the time the sporting value has been calculated that was its place.
"Any other reading is not possible so far, bearing in mind however all the teams ranked from 16th to 20th place will have to pass in front of the License Commission."
As of the October 1 deadline, Geox had not completed its license application and its riders are free to pursue contracts with other teams.
The UCI will now make its next determination of which teams will be given WorldTour licenses on November 1 of the teams which meet the sporting standards as well as ethical, financial and administrative criteria. A second announcement will be made after the license commission's first decision on November 20, and the final list of WorldTour licenses will be made December 20.
Teams in the top 15
Astana Pro Team
BMC Racing Team
Garmin – Cervélo
GreenEdge Cycling Team
Lampre - ISD
Liquigas – Cannondale
Lotto Cycling Project
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team
RadioShack – Nissan
Saxo Bank Sungard
Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team
Teams eligible for WorldTour
AG2R La Mondiale
Geox – TMC
Euskaltel – Euskadi