Rock Racing has been denied Professional Continental status by the Union Cycliste Internationale after appealing against an earlier rejection of its application.
According to the UCI, the team’s registration appeal was heard by the organisation’s management committee and rejected.
The news will come as a blow to the controversial US-based team run by Rock and Republic jeans owner Michael Ball. The squad had hoped to successfully register as Professional Continental and then gain wildcard status in order to contest selected ProTour events.
Just this week the team had been the centre of rumours suggested that they were about to sign former Giro d’Italia winner Gilberto Simoni.
Rock Racing has been registered as Continental – the rung below Professional Continental – since its inception in 2007.
Two teams were successful in having their appeals heard by the UCI management committee – Androni Giocattoli and Xacobeo Galicia Team have both now been registered as Professional Continental after having their original applications rejected.
What is Professional Continental?
Professional Continental teams sit in the tier below ProTour-level squads. Teams must consist of at least 14 professional riders, two team managers and three other staff.
In addition, teams have to meet a number of criteria set by the UCI, with financial checks carried out by auditors Ernst & Young.
As part of the registration procedure, each team has to submit details of overall budget; sponsorship contracts; bank guarantee; at least 10 signed contracts with riders; and details of the structure of the team (new registrations only).
Several teams have elected to obtain Professional Continental rather than ProTour status, as the financial and resourcing burden involved is substantially less. According to UCI figures published in July 2009, ProTour teams had an accumulated 2009 budget of 182 million euros compared to 52 million euros for Pro Continental teams.
Pro Continental teams rely on wildcard entries to ProTour-level events and Grand Tours to be competitive at the top level of the sport.
One notable example of a Pro Continental team successfully operating at the highest level of the sport is the Cervelo Test Team, home to 2009 Tour de France green jersey winner Thor Hushovd and 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, among others.
World Champion Cadel Evans has also joined new Pro Continental team BMC Racing, and will be hoping for a wildcard entry into the 2010 Tour de France.