UCI's Continental teams list shrinks

Race leaders Rock Racing had a lot on the line, so it put its entire team at the front of the line to preserve it.

Race leaders Rock Racing had a lot on the line, so it put its entire team at the front of the line to preserve it. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich)

The UCI announced its list of Continental men's teams for the 2010 season, listing 122 squads registered worldwide for the sport's lowest rank of professional teams. Not present on the list is the rumoured merger of the Rock Racing and Contentpolis-Murcia squads, but a International Cycling Union (UCI) spokesman said the final decision on the team's license has yet to be made.

While the number of teams in cycling's top two levels, the ProTour and Professional Continental ranks, have remained constant, the third division shrank considerably this year, down 9 from 2009 and 14 from the peloton's peak in 2007.

While three teams moved up into the Pro Continental ranks - CCC Polsat, Saur-Sojasun and Carmiooro NGC and one team downgraded (PSK Whirlpool), the number of teams folding has far outstripped the number of squads formed.

30 teams either vanished or left the professional ranks at the end of 2009, while only 23 new teams formed.

Australia took the biggest hit: after having nine professional teams in 2009, this year only four have kept their status and no new teams have emerged.

The US peloton remained largely static: the DLP Racing Team and Land Rover-Orbea teams called it quits, but the Adageo and Bahati Foundation teams stepped up to keep the number of US teams constant.

Not even the cycling hotbed, Belgium, was spared from the cutbacks. Three teams disappeared there, while only one new team - Qin - has been started.

Reflecting the UCI's push to globalize cycling, many of the newly formed teams are in non-traditional cycling countries. Brazil, China, Iran, Korea, Poland, Croatia and Serbia all added new teams.

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