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Swiss outfit IAM Cycling is hoping to earn a bid to the 2014 Tour de France.
The team earned important invitations to such races as the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and Milano-San Remo in its debut season, but did not participate in any of the three grand tours this year.
Management opted not to apply for a UCI WorldTour license, which would have assured them a spot in Leeds. Instead, they’re hoping the arrival of French star Sylvain Chavanel for next season will help ease the way for a wild-card invitation.
“While we do not have a Tour winner in our ranks, we’ve done enough in the peloton to deserve to be present at the table,” said IAM Cycling’s manager Serge Beucherie on Wednesday. “If we are invited to the Tour next summer, IAM Cycling will have great things to do during those three weeks.”
The team debuted in 2013 with a steady season, but missed out on a big win. The team won 12 races, including the overall at the Tour du Limousin with Martin Elmiger and the Tour Méditerranéen with Thomas Lofkvist.
For 2014, the team is clearly set on racing a grand tour, and it’s hoping it will be the Tour.
“There will be something for everyone during the three weeks,” said IAM’s sport director Eddy Seigneur after seeing the route presentation Wednesday. “We are determined to climb an additional step in the pecking order to earn an invitation. The motivation is to go full-on from the moment we start training for 2014 and go make a first reconnaissance of the classics in three weeks.”
The presence of the 34-year-old Chavanel, who has won three Tour stages during this career, will bolster IAM’s credibility greatly in the eyes of Tour organizers. Chavanel has started 13 consecutive Tours, and won the super combativity prize in 2010.
Chavanel is not the only arrival for 2014. Veteran Frenchman Jerome Pineau (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Matthias Frank (BCM Racing), Roger Kluge (NetApp-Endura), and Vicente Reynes (Lotto-Belisol) also join for next year.
With the collapse of several teams at the end of this season, including French squad Sojasun, IAM Cycling will move to the top of the list of potential wild-card teams.
With Europcar petitioning to join the WorldTour, that leaves Cofidis as the lone major French team not part of the elite league.
The Tour organization will likely invite three more teams to round out the peloton, which will automatically include 18 squads with ProTeam licenses.
Assuming one would go to Cofidis, IAM would slot in as the favorite to receive one of the two remaining invitations.
NetApp, MTN-Qhubeka, and Colombia are among other teams hopeful for a wild-card invitation.