Status quo as UCI confirms WorldTour licenses for 2019

The UCI keeps the same 18 teams at the WorldTour level for 2019, but the Pro Continental level sees some changes.

Other than a few sponsorship changes, it’s status quo for 2019 as the UCI men’s WorldTour league stays even at 18 teams.

The UCI confirmed its racing licenses for the WorldTour and Professional Continental level for the coming season. There are more shakeups at the second-tier level, with five teams out and three new teams stepping up, for a total of 25 squads.

The biggest changes at the WorldTour level are largely cosmetic. BMC Racing has morphed into CCC Team while Deceuninck is the new top name at Quick-Step for 2019.

It’s worth noting CCC’s license is now registered in Poland, rather than in the United States as it was under BMC Racing. That leaves two U.S.-registered teams in the World Tour, with Trek-Segafredo and EF Education First.

More changes will be in store going into 2020 as the UCI is set to issue another round of three-year licenses for the top-tier teams. That was a major victory for teams that pushed back this fall over plans to trim the WorldTour ranks. Negotiations between the cycling federation and the top teams led to a compromise to keep the WorldTour at 18 teams moving forward.

There will be keen competition for those WorldTour licenses, however, as several second-tier teams have expressed their interest in moving up to the top level. WorldTour status guarantees starting places in all the major races, including a valued spot in the Tour de France. Second-tier teams such as Israel Cycling Academy, Vital Concept, and Arkea-Samsic (Fortuneo in 2018) are among the teams where management has suggested they will pursue a step up.

At the Pro-Conti level, three new teams — Riwal Readynez of Denmark, Corendon-Circus of Belgium, and W52/FC Porto of Portugal — will join the peloton. Five teams will cease operation in 2018, including the closures of Aqua Blue and UnitedHealthcare. CCC Sprandi moves up to the WorldTour while Roompot and Verandas-Willems have merged to race under the Roompot-Charles banner for 2019.

Despite challenges for team ownership to shore up sponsors, both WorldTour and the Pro-Conti levels see continued support for 2019.

WorldTour teams for 2019 (UCI code-nationality)

Ag2r La Mondiale (ALM-FRA)
Astana Pro Team (AST-KAZ)
Bahrain-Merida (TBM-BRN)
Bora-Hansgrohe (BOH-GER)
Deceuninck-Quick-Step (DQT-BEL)
Team EF Education First (EFD-USA)
Groupama-FDJ (GFC-FRA)
Lotto-Soudal (LTS-BEL)
Mitchelton-Scott (MTS-AUS)
Movistar Team (MOV-ESP)
Team Dimension Data (TDD-RSA)
Team Katusha-Alpecin (TKA-SUI)
Team Jumbo-Visma (JUM-NED)
Team Sky (SKY-GBR)
Team Sunweb (SUN-GER)
Trek-Segafredo (TFS-USA)
UAE-Team Emirates (UAD-UAE)

Professional Continental teams for 2019 (UCI code-nationality)

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec (ANS-ITA)
Bardiani-CSF (BRD-ITA)
Burgos BH (BBH-ESP)
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (CJR-ESP)
Cofidis Solutions Credits (COF-FRA)
Corendon-Circus (COC-BEL)*
Delko Marseille Provence (DMP-FRA)
Direct Energie (TDE-FRA)
Euskadi Basque Country-Murias (EUS-ESP)
Gazprom-Rusvelo (GAZ-RUS)
Hagens Berman Axeon (HBA-USA)
Israel Cycling Academy (ICA-ISR)
Manzana Postobon Team (MZN-COL)
Nippo-Vini Fantani-Faizane (NIP-ITA)
Rally UHC Cycling (RLY-USA)
Roompot-Charles (ROC-NED)
Riwal Readynez Cycling Team (RIW-DEN)*
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise (SVB-BEL)
Team Arkea-Samsic (PCB-FRA)
Team Novo Nordisk (TNN-USA)
Tharcor (THR-ITA)
Vital Concept-B&B Hotels (VCB-FRA)
Wallonie Bruxelles (WVA-BEL)
W52/FC Porto (W52-POR)*
Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team (WGG-BEL)
* new teams for 2019