Thursday 11 December 2014 at 01h14

While the UCI announced 15 teams which had been qualified to receive a "UCI WorldTeam" licence for 2015 early December, allowing those teams to participate in the UCI WorldTour race, the status of the Astana and Europcar teams remained to be confirmed.

The UCI promissed to provide the answer on 10 December latest and that's what they finally did late Wednesday night when we discovered that the Astana team was rewarded the licence while that's not the case for the Europcar team! Therefore, we'll have only 17 teams in the first division in 2015 and not 18 as usual.

The UCI WorldTeams (apparently the new name of the first division teams) obtain a licence for one or several years and these licences are awarded based on sports, financial, ethical and administrative criteria, knowing that these criteria are evaluated every year, even if a team still detains a valid licence. If you'd like to know more about this procedure, you can read the article The selection procedure of the UCI ProTeams explained - infographic! which I published in 2012 about this.
The main difference between a team which still has a valid licence and a team with a licence which is about to expire or which doesn't have a licence is that the last mentioned must always present their application to the Licence Commission while the first mentioned can simply be "registered" without a presentation to the Commission.

The 17 UCI WorldTeams in 2015

While the rules of the UCI indicate that the Licence Commission should communicate its decision before 20 November if possible, it's been several years already now that it's done only on 10 December ... This year, the first decisions were published on 4 December and the last ones this Wednesday, 10 December 2014.

The 17 following teams have obtained the precious pass and will thus participate to all the UCI WorldTour races in 2015. Below the list you'll find some further information about the Astana and Europcar teams. The teams printed in bold are those whose licence has been renewed for 2015, the other teams still had a valid licence in 2015.
  • France AG2R La Mondiale (until 2016)
  • Kazakhstan Astana Pro Team* (until 2016)
  • United States BMC Racing Team
  • Belgium Etixx-QuickStep (formerly Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
  • France FDJ (formerly
  • Switzerland IAM Cycling
  • Italy Lampre-Merida (until 2015)
  • Belgium Lotto-Soudal (until 2015, formerly Lotto-Belisol)
  • Spain Movistar Team (until 2016)
  • Australia Orica-GreenEDGE (until 2016)
  • United States Team Cannondale-Garmin (formerly Garmin-Sharp)
  • Germany Team Giant-Alpecin (formerly Giant-Shimano, probably until 2016)
  • Russia Team Katusha (until 2015)
  • The Netherlands Team Lotto NL-Jumbo (formerly Belkin)
  • Great-Britain Team Sky (until 2016)
  • Russia Tinkoff-Saxo
  • United States Trek Factory Racing
The 17 UCI WorldTeams in 2015

The case of the Astana and Europcar teams


Astana: several doping cases but their application gets accepted ...

* If you haven't been living in a cave the past few months, you must know that the Astana team has led to several positive doping test announcements for the riders of the Kazakh team (the brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy (EPO), and the trainee Ilya Davidenok), in addition to several cases in its continental team. Therefore, and despite having a valid licence until 2016, the UCI of course asked the Licence Commission to have a look at the Astana case.

This Commission provided its conclusions today, mainly based on the principal that it is (...) essential to monitor the implementation of (...) the measures taken to reinforce its fight against doping on the ground. In order to do so, the Licence Commission decided to subordinate the licence registration for the 2015 season to the following conditions:
  • Astana Pro Team is audited by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL), an independent body recognised for its expertise in this field. The ISSUL will look into the circumstances of the doping cases at stake to determine whether and to what extent the team and or/its management is responsible of the recent events. Furthermore, it will assess the team's internal structures, culture and management systems to understand whether these are adequate to ensure that the highest ethical standards are upheld. It will release its report early February 2015. The audit will be paid for by the Team
  • Astana Pro Team adheres from 2015 to the internal operational requirements (see most recent article on the reform of professional cycling about this "cahier des charges") which will be compulsory for all UCI World Teams from 2017 as part of the reform of men's professional road cycling. Astana Pro Team will join a group of eight teams that have volunteered to implement
Quite logically, the Licence Commission added that these measures will have to be monitored by the UCI: In the event that the audit would lead to reveal deficiencies or in case of faulty implementation of the internal operational requirements or if another doping case would occur within the Team during the 2015 season, the UCI would refer the matter to the Licence Commission for a determination on an eventual withdrawal of the licence. The same applies if the UCI finds out that the recent allegations in the Gazzetta dello Sport turn out to be true.

As a conclusion, it's OK for now (even though the Astana team got a big chance, maybe also because what happened with the Katusha team in 2012) but Alexandre Vinokourov's team doesn't have the right to do a single faux pas!

Europcar: some budget problems, no licence!

The Europcar team, which had a licence until 2015, didn't manage to obtain its registration for 2015.

Indeed, its file presented a default for the financial criterion since Jean-René Bernaudeau was still looking for 5% of its budget. According to the Sud Ouest newspaper, the manager of the French team would have concluded his presenation in front of the Licence Commission saying Indeed, some teams have some financial problems, but others have lots of money but they have other problems, of course referring to the Astana team. Apparently this was not enough for the Licence Commission to award the World Team licence to the green team. Europcar can thus now ask its registration as a Continental Pro team, as it did between 2010 and 2013.

What does a UCI ProTeam license mean?

UCI WorldTourAs a reminder, the first division cycling teams are called, by their new name, UCI WorldTeams (even though the UCI mentions in its rules, in 3 and more specifically in article 2.15.009, a "UCI WorldTour Team licence"), and they can -thanks to this license- participate in all races of the UCI WorldTour calendar (where they're invited by default and are obliged to participate).

Furthermore, they can, if invited, participate in UCI Europe Tour races ranked in the 1.HC or 2.HC class (maximum 70% of the participating teams in such a race) or ranked in the 1.1 or 2.1 class (maximum 50% of the participating teams in such a race), in races of the UCI America Tour, UCI Asia Tour, UCI Oceania Tour or UCI Africa Tour ranked in the 1.HC, 2.HC, 1.1 or 2.1 class (maximum 50% of the participating teams in such a race).

And the Pro Continental teams?

The second level of teams, the Pro Continental teams, now also have their complete list (except for Europcar which can still be added to it). Printed in bold are the new teams in this list:

Italy Androni Giocattoli
Italy Bardiani CSF
Germany Bora-Argon 18
France Bretagne-Séché Environnement
Spain Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
Poland CCC Sprandi Polkowice
France Cofidis, solutions crédits
Colombia Colombia
Australia Drapac Professional Cycling
South-Africa MTN-Qhubeka
Italy Nippo-Vini Fantini
The Netherlands Team Roompot
Russia Rusvelo
United States Team Novo Nordisk
Belgium Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
United States UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
Belgium Wanty-Groupe Gobert
Italy Yellow Fluo**

** the Yellow Fluo was, like Astana, waiting for a confirmation of its acceptation of its licence request by the Licence Commission which decided to subordinate it (...) for the 2015 season to the condition that team undergoes stringent controls by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation and the UCI to verify the team's implementation of its announced anti-doping measures.

Concerning the Cult Energy team, which also asked its registration in this division, the UCI indicates that the Licence Commission has granted the team until December 15th to submit a new registration file.

Instead of 17 Pro Continental teams in 2014 we'll thus see 18 teams in 2015 and potentially even 20 with Europcar and Cult Energy (in 2013 there were 20 Pro Continental teams as well).

door Thomas Vergouwen
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1 comment | 6008 views

this publication is published in: UCI ProTour | Cycling general (except Tour de France)


There are 1 comments!
  1. Voici la liste officielle de l'UCI des 17 équipes classées WorldTeams et des 18 autres équipes contraintes de rester ou de descendre dans la division Continentale Pro pour 2015.

    | Pierre Mailhiot | Thursday 11 December 2014 om 02h59

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