SNOWBASIN, Utah (VN) – Rally Cycling will jump to Pro Continental status next year after an impressive 2017 season to date. The team nabbed two WorldTour stage wins at the Amgen Tour of California in May. It followed that up with strong showings at the U.S. and Canadian national championships. Rally’s step up to cycling’s second tier is part of the team’s long-term plan to expand its race schedule and establish a European presence.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” said Rally’s performance director Jonas Carney. “It’s not official yet but we’ve started the process. We’ve filed our paperwork with the UCI and everything is on track for us to go Pro Conti next year.”
In its 11th season of racing, Rally’s move to Pro Continental status has been a long time coming. Carney says the team has been planning this transition for some time. However, it wasn’t until recent UCI rule changes, which affect what races Pro Continental teams can do in North America, that made the timing right for this change.
“Previously it was against UCI rules to start a national event that wasn’t a UCI event,” Carney explains. “That was one of the reasons we didn’t make a run at it before. But those rules are changing now.”
Additionally, the Tour of California’s new WorldTour status prompted Rally’s move up the ladder. As a WorldTour race, the Tour of California could only invite two U.S. Continental teams despite a pool of strong domestic teams to choose from. The race made a controversial decision to invite Jelly Belly and Rally instead of Holowesko or Axeon Hagens Berman.
“If they were going to include [Continental] teams I figured we’d be at the top of the list,” Holowesko’s director Thomas Craven told VeloNews earlier this year. “It’s disheartening to hear that other [Continental] teams got in and we didn’t.”
Rally validated its invitation, however, with two exciting stage wins from Evan Huffman. Rally’s remarkable results at the WorldTour event boosted the team’s confidence as they moved toward Pro Continental status. “Results matter and [California] definitely helped push things along,” Carney says.
Planning for the jump in status next year, Rally is recruiting new additions to the team. But Carney says they also want to keep the team’s core intact. “It’s working really well this year so we don’t want to change too much,” he said.
While Carney wants to expand the team’s European presence next year, he is more interested in setting the team up for long-term success. “In the first year we are looking to expand our European schedule and start building our infrastructure out there,” he added. “We just want to do what we have already been doing in Europe and increase that.”