The number of WorldTour teams looks likely to increase as five outfits have launched bids to be promoted to cycling’s Premier League.
As the UCI considers applications for WorldTour team places between 2020 to 2022, a number of Professional Continental squads have put their names forward for consideration.
The UCI has changed its rules to allow for up to two more teams to be given WorldTour licences, taking the number of top-tier outfits from 18 to 20.
Teams applying for WorldTour licences includes the existing 18 squads at the highest level.
The five Pro Continental outfits putting their names forward are Arkéa Samsic, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, Cofidis, Direct Energie and Israel Cycling Academy.
But the new UCI rules, while increasing the number of places at the top, will still leave three teams out.
The international governing body will give WorldTour licences based on four criteria – ethical, financial, administrative, and organisational.
For the additional two remaining places, the teams ranked 19th and 20th in the UCI WorldTeam ranking will be given priority, meaning team results will play a significant factor in which outfits are promoted to the WorldTour.
A number of teams have made steps towards improve their performances and increase their budgets over the coming years.
French Pro Continental outfit Arkéa-Samsic signed German sprinter André Greipel for 2019, as well as switching their lead sponsor from Fortuneo to banking and insurance company Arkéa, which has reportedly boosted their budget by £1million.
Another French outfit, Direct Energie will replace its headline sponsor with gas and oil giant Total.
The Pro Continental team, now home to double Monument winner Niki Terpstra, will see their main sponsor switch from utility provider Direct Energie to Total, the biggest company in France.
That change of sponsor could lead to an increased budget for Direct Energie, which currently runs on around €10million, according to reports.
Total’s revenue was €244billion in 2018, compared with Direct Energie’s €1.99billion in 2017.
The owner of Israel Cycling Academy, Sylvan Adams, has said he is determined to take his squad to the Tour de France.
Israeli-Canadian billionaire Adams has been in talks with WorldTour teams about the possibility of a merger to secure his riders places in the biggest races.