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Alberto Contador's Saxo Bank Tinkoff Bank team close to missing out on 2013 WorldTour licence

Danish team still might not make it as six teams battle for five places

Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team seems to have come within a whisker of losing ProTeam status and with it an automatic invitation to cycling’s biggest races including the Tour de France.

In an update released this afternoon on the WorldTour registration process for the 2013 season, the UCI reveals that the Denmark-based team is ranked 20th by sporting value following the end of the 2012 season.

Had it been ranked any lower, the team, whose current licence expires this year, would have been ineligible to be considered for a WorldTour licence for the coming season and would have to have settled for Professional Continental status instead.

As things stand, it’s still by no means certain that it will secure renewal of the licence – at most there can be 18 teams holding WorldTour licences, and with 19 teams having applied for one for next season, someone is going to miss out.

The unlucky outfit is likely to be one of those ranked between 16th and 20th by sporting value, which is calculated by a formula known only to the UCI.

According to the governing body, the sporting value for the 2013 season takes account of contracts signed with the 12 leading riders for each team signed before 20 October 2012, and also includes results – not the same as WorldTour ranking points – accumulated in 2011 and 2012 by the all riders on the roster for the coming season. 

Some 13 teams – Astana, BMC Racing, Cannondale, FDJ, Katusha, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Belisol, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Orica-GreenEdge, RadioShack-Nissan, Sky and Vacansoleil-DCM – already have a WorldTour licence covering the 2013 season.

All of those bar Lotto-Belisol appear in the top 15 teams by sporting value as confirmed by the UCI today, making confirmation of their licence a formality assuming they also fulfil the ethical, financial and administrative requirements.

For reasons not revealed by the UCI, Lotto-Belisol missed the 1 October deadline to submit its paperwork – there’s nothing particularly unusual about that, one or more teams do so each year, but the team is one of those applying for renewal of an existing licence and is ranked 17th by sporting value, meaning its case needs to be considered by the UCI’s Licence Commission.

Three teams appearing in the top 15 by sporting value are applying for the renewal of their WorldTour licence.

Those are Euskaltel-Euskadi, Garmin-Sharp and the Former Rabobank team – the latter is due to race next season as a ‘white label’ team with the continued backing of the Dutch financial institution for one year in line with contractual obligations but it remains to be seen whether it will satisfy the UCI’s other criteria.

Besides Lotto-Belisol, which is 17th by sporting value, and Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, lying 20th, the other three teams occupying 16th to 20th places are Argos-Shimano (16th), FDJ (18th) and Europcar (19th).
Argos-Shimano, which raced under a Professional Continental licence in 2012, has applied for a WorldTour licence as it did 12 months ago, when it was unsuccessful because it was outside the top 20 by sporting value.

Fellow Professional Continental team Europcar has not applied for a WorldTour licence, while AG2R is applying for renewal of an existing one.

The UCI says that it will confirm registrations of ProTeams having a valid 2013 WorldTour licence and meeting the four criteria on or after 1 November, together with the registrations of teams that have applied for Professional Continental status and that have their paperwork in order.

Decisions of the UCI’s Licence Commission in respect of other teams at both levels will be communicated between 26 November and 10 December.


Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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