Dutch squad Skil-Shimano has applied for a ProTour licence for 2010, according to the Union Cycliste Internationale.
Currently a Professional Continental team, Skil-Shimano were a surprise inclusion in this year’s Tour de France on a wildcard invitation. They came away from the race empty-handed in terms of stage wins, but its riders were often seen in breakaways giving the squad some TV airtime.
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Kenny van Hummel is the squad’s best known rider. The Dutch sprinter currently leads the UCI’s Europe Tour classification largely as a result of winning five races in May. However, van Hummel struggled in the Tour and withdrew from the race after a crash on stage 17.
The squad will likely have to strengthen its roster if its ProTour application is successful – money shouldn’t be an issue as it has solid sponsors in the shape of powertool manufacturer Skil and cycle component giant Shimano.
Skil-Shimano joins the British Sky team and Lance Armstrong’s US-based RadioShack outfit in applying for a ProTour licence for 2010.
A total of 18 teams currently hold a ProTour licence. Five teams’ licences were due to lapse at the end of 2009, and all have applied to have them renewed for 2010: Ag2r, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Lampre and Milram.
Given that the ProTour was conceived as having 20 teams, this means that there are only two vacant slots. Unless a current teams drops out or the UCI changes the rules to include 21 teams, one of the three new applicants – Skil-Shimano, Sky or RadioShack – may be refused its licence application.