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US Continental teams likely to remain at 10 next year

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Tom Zirbel (Optum) keeping the break strung out

Tom Zirbel (Optum) keeping the break strung out
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team Smart Stop doing all the work to reel in the break.

Team Smart Stop doing all the work to reel in the break.
(Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
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Big crowds at the North Star Uptown criterium.

Big crowds at the North Star Uptown criterium.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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The men begin the final stage here in Bend

The men begin the final stage here in Bend
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)

The number of UCI Continental teams in the US will likely remain the same next year, with 5-hour Energy falling from the list but a new Southern Californian team stepping up to fill the void.

Haldane Morris, the general manager and director of the new iRT Racing Pro Cycling Team, confirmed to Cyclingnews in November that the team would apply for a Continental license, although he would not reveal roster details.

All the remaining teams from 2014 have either announced their 2015 rosters or have riders signed for next season, including Astellas, Hincapie Racing, Jamis Hagens-Berman, Jelly Belly-Maxxis, Optum Pro Cycling and Team SmartStop. The development team run by Axel Merckx will return as Axeon Cycling with the same development mission. Airgas has become Airgas-Safeway and has signed 2013 Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner.

The Champion System-Stans No Tubes team will return next season with an expanded focus from the National Criterium Calendar to include select one-day and stage races as well.

“Last year was interesting,” said team manager Igor Volshteyn. “We had very high aspirations that we could somehow go head to head with [UnitedHealthcare] and not win often but at least win sometimes. And that just proved unrealistic. The crit team and the crew they have put together is just a well-oiled machine. We realize that trying to put 100 percent of our chances into defeating UHC is just not a smart tactic. And you had [US Elite criterium champion Daniel] Holloway on top of that, so we're going to broaden the bases.”

Team applications and registration materials for men's Continental teams and women's road teams were due to USA Cycling's auditor by November 3. UCI fees – €4,500 for men, €2,000 for women – had to be wired to the UCI bank by November 25. USA Cycling was due to submit all completed Continental team registration paperwork to the UCI by December 5.