By Nigel Wynn
Garmin-Chipotle, the US-based cycling team owned and managed by Jonathan Vaughters, has been granted a four-year ProTour license by the sports governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
Former pro cyclist Vaughters' squad has so far been allocated Professional Continential status, but has ridden in many of the UCI's ProTour events - and other high profile races such as the Tour de France - by relying on wildcard entries.
Throughout 2008, the team has proved that it is more than a match for the existing ProTour squads and its stringent and open anti-doping policy has been widely applauded.
Garmin-Chipotle is currently home to British rider David Millar, and is also going to be home to Bradley Wiggins next season, who jumps ship from Columbia.
Although the UCI's ProTour has been troubled since its inception, a new amicable agreement drawn up by the UCI and the three grand tour organisers has seen the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia return to a UCI 'world calendar' next season.
At the same time as announcing Garmin-Chipotle's ProTour team license, the UCI also announced that three events have been give four-year ProTour licenses: Vattenfall Cyclassics, Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and Tour de Suisse. These events are added to the current 2009 ProTour list:
Tour Down Under
Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco
Tour de Romandie
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian-San Sebastian
Tour de Pologne
GP Ouest France-Plouay
Union Cycliste Internationale: www.uci.ch.
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