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How the WorldTour teams will shape up in 2012 — new teams and SaxoBank on the cusp

The UCI allowed a clearer picture into how the ProTeam lineup will shape up next season when it released its first round of evaluation of teams bucking for spots in the 18-squad league.

The UCI allowed a clearer picture into how the ProTeam lineup will shape up next season when it released its first round of evaluation of teams bucking for spots in the 18-squad league.

The UCI ranked points from the best 15 riders and factored in criteria such as compliance with ethical factors, bank guarantees and administrative issues to create its list revealed Tuesday.

The top 15-ranked teams will be automatically awarded WorldTour licenses while five other teams will fight for the remaining three licenses. Final announcements will be revealed November 20.

New points rules for 2012, which count the points of the top 15 ranked riders on each squad coupled with team ranking points, coupled with 10 existing WorldTour licenses for next season means that at least one major team could be left out in the cold.

The list released Tuesday was ranked alphabetically, not by points totals, which the UCI did not release.

However, the Spanish website www.velofutur.es added up the points of the top riders from each squad and came up with a list that better reflects the power ranking of the top teams (see two lists below).

That website was going on estimations of which riders have landed on which teams for next season, so the exact ranking could be a little off, but it provides a more accurate reflection of the points rankings.

Under the list compiled by velofutur, the merged teams of Leopard-Trek and RadioShack (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) lead the team rankings. BMC, Sky,Garmin-Cervélo and Rabobank round out the top five.

New teams Lotto and GreenEdge are on the bottom end of the top 15 while SaxoBank-Sungard is also on the lower end of the points rankings.

Also, the future of Bjarne Riis’s SaxoBank-Sungard team rests in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which will finally take on Alberto Contador’s long-running clenbuterol case at the end of November. If CAS bans Contador, SaxoBank-Sungard will lose his points and the team would all but surely get bounced out of the WorldTour.

The fight to gain access to the WorldTour events — which include all three grand tours and the major, one-day classics — will get even tougher because 10 teams already have valid licenses for next season and two of those – Euskaltel-Euskadi and AG2R-LaMondiale — are not included among the top-ranked 15 teams.

Missing from this early list was Skil-Shimano (racing next season as Project 1T4I), which had expressed interest in moving up to the WorldTour in 2012.

Though included in the UCI’s latest list, Geox-TMC faces an uncertain future following the announcement last week that title sponsor Geox will not continue next year. Team owners are scrambling to find new sponsors in time to save the team for next year, with a Pro Continental status most likely if the team manages to survive.

All three major French teams were not among the leading teams in the first wave of selection in what the UCI characterized as “sporting value” (Cofidis has opted out of trying for ProTeam status).

15 teams by alphabetical order released by the UCI:

  • Astana
  • BMC *
  • Garmin-Cervélo
  • GreenEdge
  • Katusha
  • Lampre-ISD *
  • Liquigas-Cannondale *
  • Lotto
  • Movistar
  • Omega Pharma-QuickStep
  • Rabobank *
  • RadioShack-Nissan-Trek *
  • SaxoBank-Sungard
  • Sky *
  • Vacansoleil-DCM *
  • *valid WorldTour licenses for 2012

Next five teams

  • AG2R-La Mondiale *
  • Geox-TMC (sponsor already announced its departure)
  • FDJ
  • Euskaltel-Euskadi *
  • Europcar

Team points rankings determined by Velofutur.es

  • 1. RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
  • 2. BMC
  • 3. Sky
  • 4. Garmin-Cervelo
  • 5. Rabobank
  • 6. Liquigas-Cannondale
  • 7. Vacansoleil-DCM
  • 8. Katusha
  • 9. Lampre-ISD
  • 10. Omega Pharma-Quick Step
  • 11. Movistar
  • 12. Astana
  • 13. Lotto
  • 14. Saxo Bank-Sungard
  • 15. GreenEdge
  • 16. AG2R La Mondiale
  • 17. FDJ
  • 18. Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • 19. Europcar
  • 20. Skil-Shimano
  • (Geox-TMC is missing from this list)