Confusion continues as ProTour teams will start all 26 races in new UCI World Tour

ProTour teams will start all 26 races in new UCI World Tour for 2011. But still some confusion as the ProTour and Historic calendars merge.

After a couple of seasons of a confusing classification of major international events, the UCI management committee agreed at its October 1 meeting in Melbourne, Australia, “on the formal and complete merger of the UCI ProTour and Historical calendars” to form the UCI World Tour.

All 26 races — 13 one-day classics and 13 stage races — will, according to the UCI, be subject to the same rules of entry. This means that the 18 UCI ProTour teams “will have the right to and be obliged to participate” in every race. The remaining slots — up to four teams for the grand tours and seven for most of the other races — can be filled by UCI Pro Continental squads chosen by the organizers.

2011 UCI World Tour

Jan 18-23 Tour Down Under (Aus)
Mar 6-13 Paris–Nice (F)
Mar 9-15 Tirreno-Adriatico (I)
Mar 19 Milan-San Remo (I)
Mar 21-27 Volta a Catalunya (Sp)
Mar 27 Ghent-Wevelgem (B)
Apr 23 Tour of Flanders (B)
Apr 4-9 Tour of the Basque Country (Sp)
Apr 10 Paris-Roubaix (F)
Apr 17 Amstel Gold Race (Nl)
Apr 20 Flèche Wallonne (B)
Apr 24 Liège-Bastogne-Liège (B)
Apr 26-May 1 Tour de Romandie (Swi)
May 7-29 Giro d’Italia (I)
Jun 5-12 Critérium du Dauphiné (F)
Jun 11-19 Tour de Suisse (Swi)
Jul 2-24 Tour de France (F)
Jul 30 Clasica San Sebastian (Sp)
Jul 31-Aug 6 Tour of Poland (Pl)
Aug 8-14 Eneco Tour (Nl-B)
Aug 20-Sep 11 Vuelta a España (Sp)
Aug 21 Vattenfall Cyclassics (G)
Aug 28 GP Ouest France-Plouay (F)
Sep 9 Grand Prix de Québec (Can)
Sep 11 Grand Prix de Montréal (Can)
Oct 15 Tour of Lombardy (I)

That’s the goal, but on hearing the news, Giro d’Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan said, “For us, the organizers, this changes nothing, we’ll stay with the (2008) agreement.” That agreement stated: “The first 17 teams of the world ranking established at the end of 2010, according to the sporting results of the teams, will be automatically selected. The other teams will receive wild cards from the organizers.”

That agreement is superseded by the new rules of entry to the merged calendar — which has, in theory, brought final closure to the years of conflict between the UCI and grand tour organizers. In contrast to Zomegnan’s stance, the Tour de France organizer ASO welcomed “an open system based on sporting criteria.” Which is what the UCI has essentially agreed to with its new system of evaluating each team’s strength.

These sporting criteria, as opposed to a team’s position in the world rankings, are being evaluated on riders’ performances in all the ProTour and Historic events, the world and national championships, and the principal races on the various continental and under-23 calendars. Each team’s score will be based on its 15 top riders in that evaluation, including those riders registered to join the team in 2011.

This all-encompassing team classification will be known by October 25 — and a ProTour team that figures in the top 15 will have its license automatically renewed, assuming it also satisfies the various ethical, financial and administrative requirements. Other teams will have to be evaluated, as in the past, by the independent licensing commission.

Some missing teams from ProTour applications

For next year, it was announced Tuesday, 10 teams with ongoing ProTour licenses have complied with the application requirements for renewing those licenses: AG2R-La Mondiale, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Quick Step, Rabobank, Saxo Bank-SunGaard, Sky Procycling, Team Garmin-Cervélo and Team RadioShack.

Of the eight other current ProTour teams, Team Milram has disbanded and Astana has yet to comply with the application requirements. The other six teams have all applied for renewal: Euskaltel-Euskadi, FDJ, Geox-TMC (previously Footon-Servetto), HTC-Highroad (Columbia was not mentioned on the UCI press release), Liquigas-Cannondale and Telefonica Movistar (previously Caisse d’Épargne).

Three current Pro Continental teams are applying for ProTour status: BMC Racing, Cofidis and Vacansoleil-DCM. Also on the list is the new Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, headed by the Schleck brothers, which has yet to name its title sponsor.

Not appearing in the current list of applicants is the Australian team being put together by Pegasus Racing, and the former BBox team that secured its new title sponsor, Europcar, a day after the application deadline. It’s possible that both these teams, along with Team Astana, will be added to the list of applicants before the team evaluations are issued on October 25.