New qualification system means two domestic teams will not ride 2016 Tour of Britain

A qualification ranking system will decide which of the British-based UCI Continental teams will ride in the 2016 Tour of Britain

(Photo: Andy Jones)
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

Being a British UCI Continental team will no longer guarantee you a place in the Tour of Britain as of 2016 as organiser Sweetspot brings in a new qualification system for the domestic squads.

With six Continental teams on these shores, two are set to miss out on the September race in a decision that seems to have been met positively.

Sweetspot's Mick Bennett presented the idea to team managers at a meeting in January and says there has been limited negative response.

"You’ve got to ask yourself: have we got 60 riders capable of competing against WorldTour and Pro Continental teams? Sadly, I don’t think we do. It’s a start. Nobody has called me, or criticised it, since we gave team managers the draft about our proposals in January. Not one person," said Bennett.

>>> Tour of Britain 2016 route confirmed with stages in Scotland, Wales and Dartmoor

Team Wiggins will not have to sweat about securing enough qualifying points as they have automatically qualified thanks to Owain Doull finishing the 2015 race as the highest-ranked Continental rider.

That means that only three of JLT Condor, Madison Genesis, NFTO, Raleigh GAC and PedalHeaven will qualify, meaning their performances in the season's British races will be more important than ever.

Teams will fight for position in a rankings table based on results in the Elite Road Series, Tour Series and the British-based UCI races such as Ride London and the CiCLE Classic.

>>> Tour of Britain 2016 route: stage by stage

JLT Condor's John Herety agrees with the move, but questions the timing of proposal, coming after he's signed riders for the season with the carrot of riding the Tour of Britain.

"I’m sympathetic towards having a criteria; with the number of British teams there are now you can’t have half the field of British riders for such a prestigious event," he said.

"I have no problem with the criteria, qualification for events take place in other countries, I’m just disappointed it’s come out as late as it has, when I’ve signed riders and got contracts for races. A January meeting was too late to decide this."

Team Sky will certainly ride in their home race, with an invitation very likely to be given to Pro Continental team One Pro Cycling. Organisers also have to save a place for a UK national team under their agreement with British Cycling, meaning seven domestic teams are likely to compete in the race.

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.