Team Sky will find out if they have a UCI ProTour licence for 2010 in the next two weeks, with a formal announcement from the UCI set to made before the world road race championships in Mendrisio in the last week in September.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly, ProTour manager Alain Rumpf refused to say if Team Sky has secured the licence, which gives teams a place in all the ProTour races on the calendar but not an automatic invitation to the Tour de France.
However, as the biggest new team in professional cycling for 2010, Team Sky is widely expected to obtain ProTour status and so kick-off their season at the Tour Down Under in Australia in January.
Rumpf told Cycling Weekly that eight applications have been made for ProTour licences but that only a maximum of seven places were available.
Also looking for a new ProTour licence for 2010 are five current ProTour teams: AG2R La Mondiale, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Lampre NGC and Milram. New applications have come from Team Sky, Lance Armstrong’s new Radio Shack team and the Dutch Professional Continental squad Skil-Shimano, that is looking to step up a level in 2010.
There are currently 18 ProTour teams but the UCI licence commission has decided that a maximum of 20 ProTour licences can be issued. The UCI claims the ProTour is about quality rather than quantity, with new standards, especially regarding anti-doping and finances, set for 2010 application.
“13 teams already have licences for 2010. We’ve had eight applications and we have a maximum of 20 places, so unfortunately someone is going to lose out,” Rumpf told Cycling Weekly.
“The UCI licence commission has held three hearings in the last few weeks and Team Sky was the first to discuss their ProTour application on August 27. They were quizzed about the riders, the finances and especially their anti-doping position.”
“The other applicants have also been heard and we expect a final decision on who gets the 2010 licences very soon. Definitely before the world championships.”
There has been speculation about the future of the ProTour status of several teams this year, including Astana and Fuji-Servetto, but Rumpf told Cycling Weekly that no action against any teams is currently on the agenda.