By Jonny Long
Cofidis and Total Direct Energie are set to become WorldTour teams next season, according to reports in the Italian media.
The two French teams would step up from the Professional Continental level to join the other 18 WorldTour teams.
This change will apparently reduce the number of wildcards offered to Pro Continental teams for Grand Tours, as reported by Dutch news outlet Wielerflits, with the usual four teams invited being reduced to two as Cofidis and Total Direct Energie will now be guaranteed spots.
It is currently unclear how this change will affect the planned proposal to give two of the four wildcard spots for each Grand Tour to the two top-ranked Pro Continental teams.
Other UCI reforms that will take place in 2020 include WorldTour teams receiving a WorldTour license for three years with an assessment being made at the end of this period concerning each team's continued inclusion and viewing applications from Pro Continental teams hoping to join their ranks.
La Gazzetta Dello Sport also report that Katusha could leave as a title sponsor of the Swiss team, with Canyon joining Alpecin. The bike manufacturer apparently has plans to bring Mathieu van der Poel across to the team from Corendon-Circus, which would allow the Dutchman to ride at WorldTour level for the first time.
Five Pro Continental teams applied for WorldTour status earlier this year, with Arkéa-Samsic, Vital Concept and Israel Cycling Academy ultimately unsuccessful in this endeavour.
Arkéa-Samsic signed André Greipel for the 2019 season and are currently attempting to lure Nairo Quintana from Movistar as the French outfit continue to step up efforts to join the WorldTour ranks.
Niki Terpstra joined Direct Energie from Quick-Step Floors at the start of the season but had his spring campaign cut short after suffering a "severe concussion" in a crash at the Tour of Flanders. He is, however, on the French team's provisional start list for the Tour de France.
Four French teams have been given the four wildcard spots for the 2019 Tour de France, with Cofidis, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Arkéa-Samsic and Total Direct Energie set to take the start line in Brussels on July 6 alongside the 18 WorldTour outfits.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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