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The Nineteen ProTour Teams for 2005 - Updated
 
By Staff
Date: 11/30/2004
The Nineteen ProTour Teams for 2005 - Updated
 

The UCI today announced the nineteen ProTour teams for the 2005 season. Excluded from licensing are Phonak (Switzerland), AG2R (France) and MrBookmaker-Palmans (Belgium). A written decision has been issued for each of these teams - the full UCI Phonak decision is here.

The new ProTour re-organizes the classification of races, and establishes tiers of teams which have competition requirements depending on the team's classification level. The highest ranking for a race and a team is ProTour. Teams not falling under this highest classification are eligible to race in the Continental Tours. For a brief discussion of the new race circuit classifications, see our article from September 25th 2004.

The licensing of ProTour teams for 2005 took into consideration the following factors (the specific rules are not yet available to the general public):

1. Quality and speed of fulfilling the conditions for obtaining a licence;
2. Guarantees of sound and stable finances for the coming four years;
3. Quality of riders, particularly in terms of their ranking and results;
4. Compliance with the UCI Rules;
5. Compliance with contractual obligations;
6. Compliance with legal obligations;
7. Respect for sports ethics, including issues related to doping and health;
8. Absence of other elements with a potentially adverse effect on the image of cycling.

Phonak - "A Black Day for Swiss Cycling"

The Phonak decision hinges mainly on the doping problems the team saw toward the end of the 2004 season - Camenzind having tested positive and being dismissed just before the Olympic Games, Tyler Hamilton "suspected of doping during the Olympic Games in Athens" and being accused of having received a blood transfusion during the Vuelta a Espana, and the same being the case with Santiago Perez.

The UCI noted that as of their decision date, neither of the two riders had been dismissed from the team, and that the team has "cast doubt on the reliability of tests developed by the laboratories in Lausanne and Athens" - therefore not upholding the image of the ProTour.

The Phonak website today notes the disappointment with which this decision has been met, acknowledging that its riders could hardly want to continue without a top flight race schedule guaranteee. Phonak states that it will still try to obtain wildcard positions in the Grand Tours.

Phonak states that after a hearing with the UCI on 12 November it corrected the specific deficiencies noted by the UCI, but that the hearing on the 22nd produced no new results - the team says it appears that the second hearing was unnecessary as the UCI had made its decision earlier on. 

Tyler Hamilton's Statement

Tyler Hamilton has posted this statement on his website today:

"As of November 25, 2004 I am no longer a member of the Phonak Professional Cycling Team based in Switzerland.

"After many discussions with team management, we concluded together, that it would not be possible for the team to continue at the level we hoped with my name on the roster. Specifically, it would be impossible for Phonak to be accepted into the UCI Pro Tour with one of its riders facing charges of using prohibited performance enhancing methods.

"We had hoped my facing the judicial process alone, apart from the team would pave the way for Phonak being included in the Pro Tour. Knowing that the Phonak cycling team has done everything it could to meet the demands required by the UCI to be accepted into the Pro Tour, we were very disappointed to learn today, that the team would not be included after all.

"I joined the Phonak Cycling Team in 2004 with high hopes of building one of the best teams in cycling. Together, we accomplished a number of goals, namely being invited to the Tour de France in July.

"While at Phonak, I played a large role in bringing in various sponsors, riders and staff. It is out of loyalty to them and the remaining riders and staff that I accepted the premature termination of my contract which was due to expire at the end of the 2005 season.

"By stepping aside, I had hoped to see the Phonak Team accepted into the Pro Tour. I also hoped to see the team carry out the long-term plans we put in place last January. While I was saddened to have to part company with a group of people I care for so deeply, it seemed this was the only way to keep the team operating and able to compete at the highest level of the sport of cycling.

"It is my hope they will still be able to accomplish this goal.

"I am very sad the challenges I face personally have had such a wide ranging impact on so many. This ordeal now affects the Phonak riders, staff, sponsors and their families. On a personal level, and on behalf of everyone involved, I am more committed than ever to getting to the bottom of all this.

"I want to express my complete and overwhelming appreciation to Andy Rihs and the team management of Phonak for standing beside me as long as they could. Their support has been unprecedented and I am very grateful for everything they have done for me to date.

"This said, I am looking forward to the judicial process in my case and having the opportunity to prove my innocence. It is my sincere hope that once I am exonerated I can rejoin the professional peloton and the sport I love.

"Tyler Hamilton"

AG2R

AG2R was denied a license based on the fact that its roster seems too weak to support ProTour caliber racing. The UCI noted that: "The leader of this team, Jean Patrik Nazon, occupies the 135th rank currently to the UCI ranking. The two next best riders occupy the 230th and 238th ranks respectively." On November 22, Vincent Lavenu of AG2R met with UCI officials and stated that the team's budget had increased from 4 million Euros to 4.6 million Euros, and stated that additional riders of high caliber could be secured, however the UCI still chose to deny the team a license.

MrBookmaker-Palmans

MrBookmaker-Palmans also suffered from the "too small" syndrome in the eyes of the UCI - its budget, in comparison to the other teams is small, it has not signed the caliber of riders the UCI deems necessary, and that the team sent in its registration documents late. The team insists that it met the registration requirements time deadline, but as the MrBookmaker decision states, the bell had already rung for this Belgian team.

The 19 ProTour Teams for 2005

Quick Step BEL
Davitamon-Lotto BEL
CSC DEN
Illes Balears ESP
Liberty Seguros ESP
Euskaltel-Euskadi ESP
Saunier Duval-Prodir ESP
Cofidis FRA
Bouygues Telecom FRA
FDJeux.com FRA
Crédit Agricole FRA
Gerolsteiner GER
T-Mobile GER
Domina Vacanze ITA
Liquigas ITA
Lampre-Caffita ITA
Fassa Bortolo ITA
Rabobank NED
Discovery Channel USA


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