Alberto Contador's Saxo Bank team was awarded a sought-after WorldTour license on Monday, confirming the Danish outfit's place in cycling's elite division for the 2013 season. Saxo, along with French outfits AG2R La Mondiale and FDJ and Belgian team Lotto, retained their place in the 18-strong top division, providing them automatic entrance to the sport's marquee races.
However there was no place for Katusha, which means the Joaquim Rodriguez-led Russian outfit will have to rely on invitations from organisers to take part in the grand tours, one-day classics and other principal events.
The only change from last season is the inclusion of Dutch outfit Argos, who feature young German duo Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb. The sport's governing body the UCI did not provide any reason concerning the refusal to grant Katusha WorldTour status.
"The request from the team Katusha for registration in first division has been rejected," d the federation in a statement. In accordance with UCI regulations, this team's application has been forwarded to the UCI administration, so that the latter may assess the possibility of registering this team as a UCI Professional Continental Team."
Aside from sporting performance, the UCI's Licenses Commission also takes ethical and financial criteria into account.
"Purito" Rodriguez, 33, claimed victory in the Fleche Wallonne classic as well as the Tour of Lombardy this year. The Spaniard also finished second at the Tour of Italy and third in the Tour of Spain as he claimed top spot in the year-end WorldTour standings.
Russian Denis Menchov, a two-time winner of the Vuelta and 2009 Giro champion whose name was mentioned in connection with disgraced trainer Michele Ferrari in October, is another notable member of the Katusha team.
The 18 UCI WorldTour licenced teams
AG2R La Mondiale (FRA), Argos (NED), Astana (KAZ), BMC (USA), Cannondale (ITA), Euskaltel (ESP), FDJ (FRA), Garmin (USA), Lampre (ITA), Lotto (BEL), Movistar (ESP), Omega Pharma (BEL), Orica (AUS), ex-Rabobank (NED), RadioShack (USA), Saxo (DEN), Team Sky (GBR), Vacansoleil (NED)
AS FOR ARGOS...
The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced today that Team
Argos-Shimano has been granted a World Tour license. The team has
satisfied sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria to
achieve this, and will hold the license for the next four years, thereby
assuring it of participation in all competitions at the highest level
during that period. This is the international cycling team’s reward for
its consistently-applied policy based on a progressive concept with
Iwan Spekenbrink, general manager of Team Argos-Shimano, says the World
Tour license is the result of hard work by a talented, united and
dedicated group of staff and riders. “Team Argos-Shimano represents an
innovative and modern top sport project, in which we take the
responsibility of coaching our talented athletes totally and in all
respects; a method that has been successful in other sports and will
undoubtedly be applied elsewhere in cycling.” Cycling experience and a
great deal of expertise and knowledge from outside cycling are all
fundamental to the team’s structure. Based on the process-oriented 1t4i
principle (team spirit – inspiration – integrity – improvement –
innovation), which is directed at improving both individuals and the
team, the riders’ physical and mental talents are linked to intensive
modern coaching, a method that has been shown to be effective.
“This World Tour license is a reward for the combination of a strong
group of riders and innovative coaching staff, who have managed to get
into the World Tour through their own efforts. It’s greatly satisfying
to work with a team that’s growing mainly through developing itself. The
granting of this license is also certainly what our faithful sponsors
deserve. They have enabled us to achieve this and really believe in
using a sustainable policy like ours in building a top sporting
organization. The World Tour licence puts us in position to consistently
continue our policy in the next few years and so keep on growing”, says
Follow Team Argos-Shimano at 1t4i.com