World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, today confirmed that it has granted wild card status to 17 Professional Continental teams, giving them the opportunity to be invited to UCI ProTour races including the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta.
In addition to BMC Racing, which had already been giving wild card status, allowing it to participate in last month’s Tour Down Under where it was led by World Champion Cadel Evans, teams confirmed include Cervélo TestTeam, home of former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre and Thor Hushovd, winner of the green points jersey at last year’s edition of the race.
The list is dominated by teams from the countries hosting the three grand tours, plus The Netherlands and Belgium, helping guarantee the presence of local teams below ProTour level in the sport's flagship events, an important issue for broadcasters, sponsors, advertisers and of course the public who turn out roadside to watch or follow races on TV.
In a press release, the UCI said: “‘Wild card’ status will give the recipient UCI Professional Continental Teams the right to be invited to races on the UCI ProTour calendar. Teams will only be granted ‘wild card’ status if they meet strict quality criteria, in particular sporting, legal, administrative and ethical criteria. The introduction of ‘wild card’ status fulfils a demand by organisers, teams and riders, who have expressed their desire, together with the UCI, for all participants in races on the UCI ProTour calendar to meet the same requirements, in particular with regards to ethics.”
The teams that have been granted wild card status for a one-year period, together with their country of registration (which doesn’t necessarily reflect where they are based – two Italian teams are registered in Ireland, for example, presumably for fiscal reasons) is as follows:
Acqua & Sapone (Italy)
Andalucia Cajasur (Spain)
Androni Giocattoli (Venezuela)
Bbox Bouygues Telecom (France)
BMC Racing (Switzerland)
Carmiooro - NGC (Great Britain)
Ceramica Flaminia (Ireland)
Cervélo Test Team (Switzerland)
Cofidis, le crédit en ligne (France)
Colnago - CSF Inox (Ireland)
ISD - Neri (Italy)
Saur - Sojasun (France)
Skil - Shimano (The Netherlands)
Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator (Belgium)
Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (The Netherlands)
Xacobeo Galicia Team (Spain)
IN December, the UCI confirmed that 20 teams had applied for wild card status for 2010, and that initially three applications had been rejected, with the teams concerned allowed to appeal the decision.
Two of those – Androni Giocattoli and Xacobeo Galicia – have succeeded in their appeals, but there is no place for USA-registered Rock Racing, while applicants Team Vorarlberg – Corratec (Austria) and De Rosa – Stac Plastic (Ireland) have also failed to make the cut.
The UCI introduced the wild card designation in 2008 following calls from in response to wishes from race organisers, teams and riders for all those taking part in ProTour events to have to meet the same criteria, especially those concerned with ethical issues.
To obtain wild card status, teams need to be registered with the UCI, which depends on various various legal, financial and ethical criteria, and must also participate in the UCI’s biological passport programme, which includes making contributions towards its funding and disclosing the whereabouts of their riders.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.