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.
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.
“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.