Union Cycliste Internationale is reviewing IAM Cycling's paperwork prior to issuing the Swiss team with a WorldTour licence
“According to UCI Regulations, the team has fulfilled the sporting criteria for a promotion,” the UCI said. “Its UCI Professional Continental Team application will be submitted to the [WorldTour] License Commission which will review all other required criteria (financial, administrative and ethical).”
The UCI processed the WorldTour teams’ documents before the November 3 deadline, but only had 17, including Great Britain’s Sky, applying for the maximum 18 spots. The door was left open when Cannondale decided it would no longer sponsor its Italian WorldTour team.
The Swiss IAM team has raced in the second division since its debut in the 2013 season and in 2014, received one of the Tour de France‘s four wildcard invitations to race. Team owner Michel Thétaz planned to keep applying for wildcards into 2015, but the opportunity arrived to secure IAM’s spot in every race on the WorldTour calendar.
The WorldTour calendar consists of 27 races from January to October. IAM Cycling will have the right, and the obligation, to race in all the races from the three Grand Tours and to races in Australia and Canada.
It will have greater security, but also greater costs that come with more staff and a more intensive racing programme. First division teams at times simultaneously race in three different races on three different continents.
Thétaz said he is seeking co-sponsor for 2016, but when Cycling Weekly contacted the team it would not say if it was making a sponsor push for the 2015 WorldTour. A second title sponsor could make going to Australia and Canada worthwhile, because Thétaz told Cycling Weekly in 2013 that his Geneva-based asset management company has no interest outside of Europe.
The Swiss businessman did not respond to Cycling Weekly when contacted for this article.
Assuming all applications pass, the 2015 WorldTour will include teams Sky with Ag2r La Mondiale, Astana, BMC Racing, Cannondale, FDJ, Katusha, Lampre-Merida, Lotto NL, Lotto-Soudal, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Orica-GreenEDGE, Europcar, Giant-Alpecin, Tinkoff-Saxo, Trek Factory Racing. IAM Cycling would make 18.
The top series lost one team at the end of the 2014 season when Italy’s team Cannondale closed and the sponsor agreed to take over Jonathan Vaughters’ Garmin-Sharp team for 2015. Last year, Vacansoleil left and Europcar stepped up from the second division to join the WorldTour.
Besides IAM Cycling, second division teams Cofidis and MTN-Qhubeka have been named as squads that could possibly make the leap to the WorldTour for 2015 but neither team has shown interest.
To make step into 2015, Thétaz beefed up his blue and white team with several riders including Frenchman Jérôme Coppel, Colombian Jarlinson Pantano Gomez and Dutchman Stef Clement.
His roster already included Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel, Italian Matteo Pelucchi and Austrian Matthias Brändle who set a new hour record on the track last week.