By Nick Bull
NORTH-WEST based Herbalife-Leisure Lakes and Hope Factory Racing are the surprise selections for this year's Halfords Tour Serie, Cycling Weekly can exclusively reveal.
With television coverage once again guaranteed, the battle to be one of the 10 squads who will ride the entire series - which last week was extended to 11 rounds for the first time - has become fiercely competitive.
Herbalife had to settle for riding two rounds as a guest team in 2011, while Hope are new for this year having branched out from the bike manufacturer's successful off-road squads.
Metaltek-Scott are the other team making their debut in the event, although many of the riders - including individual round winner Tony Gibb - have competed in the series as part of the CyclePremier squad in recent years.
Unsurprisingly, Britain's six UCI-registered teams will be competing, while organiser SweetSpot is also finalising the guest teams that will get to ride either one, two or three rounds of this year's series.
Tour Series 2012 teams
TS History: Sixth, 2011 (as CyclePremier-Metaltek)
TS History: Second, 2011
TS History: N/A (Guest team in 2011 for Stoke-on-Trent and Oldham rounds)
Hope Factory Racing
TS History: N/A
TS History: Fourth, 2010 and 2011 (as Sigma Sport-Specialized)
TS History: N/A
TS History: Winners, 2010 (as Motorpoint-Marshalls Pasta)
TS History: Fifth, 2010
TS History: Winners, 2011
TS History: Fifth, 2011
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