Saxo Bank WorldTour licence loss may be good news for other teams

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Team Saxo Bank faces the UCI's licence commission and a possible downgrade from the WorldTour. After Alberto Contador's doping ban on February 6, the team lost a majority of its points, 68 per cent.

Automatic invitations to the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and other WorldTour events will be rescinded if Saxo Bank drops to the second division.

"If they [the licence commission] takes Saxo Bank's licence and gives it to another team, we don't have a choice," Giro director, Michele Acquarone told Tuttobiciweb. "If they just take the team's licence, leave the number of WorldTour teams at 17, then the scene changes."

Acquarone said that the Giro's team commission would contact the second division teams interested, including Saxo Bank, and select a new, 22nd team to race from May 5 to 27. Several second division Italian teams would like to race, including Acqua & Sapone.

Tour de France organiser would follow a similar path, maybe selecting a second division team over Saxo Bank.

Contador lost his 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro titles when the CAS upheld his positive test at the 2010 Tour and banned him for two years.


NetApp receives Flanders invitation after Giro

German second division team, NetApp received an invitation to race in the Tour of Flanders classics on April 1. It is the second big opportunity for the team, which in January was invited to race the Giro d'Italia.

"We had to choose among three teams for the last wild card," said the race's managing director, Nicolas Denys. "NetApp was the team that convinced us. Their performance at Paris-Roubaix last year showed us that they enter a major race with an undaunted and aggressive spirit.

"This year, they've strengthened their classics squad considerably. They signed on a great Belgian talent, Jerome Baugnies, who already placed second at our U23 edition."

The team will join the 18 ProTeams and second division teams Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas, Landbouwkrediet, Project 1t4i, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia and Europcar.


Critérium International back to Corsica

The Critérium International, March 24 and 25, will return to Corsica for a third consecutive year, organiser ASO announced on Tuesday.

"According to the traditional concept of the event," it said, "three stages that are both varied and complementary are served up to the riders for the first weekend of spring."

Fränk Schleck (Leopard-Trek) won the race last year after defending his lead in the final stage, a seven-kilometre time trial. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) placed second in the time trial.

This year, however, the format changes. Riders face a flat stage and a time trial stage on the first day, Saturday, and a summit finish to Col de l'Ospedale pass, the third stage, on Sunday.

ASO said that it "promises a defining struggle between the pretenders for the title. After this ascent, there will be no time to catch up lost ground."

It took the race to Corsica for the first time in 2010, paving the way for an eventual visit by the Tour de France. In November, it announced its 100th anniversary edition, next year, will start on the island.

Ullrich banned from German amateur races

Jan Ullrich is banned from riding German amateur races as well as internationally for two years. The German federation extended the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling to its cyclo-sportive rides.

Ullrich, the 1997 Tour winner de France winner, rode a few sportives in the last year, including one in Miami. The federation's ban (BDR), however, only applies to those within his home country.

"I owe a lot to cycling," Ullrich said in a statement on Friday. "I will continue to share my joy and passion for the sport to others."

Last week, the CAS banned the 38-year-old for two years and stripped his wins since May 1, 2005 - including third in the 2005 Tour. It ruled on evidence from the Union Cycliste International (UCI), which showed connections to doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Ullrich visited him several times and paid around €80,000 prior to the Operación Puerto raids in 2006, according to the CAS.

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