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
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
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
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
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
"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.
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 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
The 19 ProTour Teams for 2005
Quick Step BEL
Illes Balears ESP
Liberty Seguros ESP
Saunier Duval-Prodir ESP
Bouygues Telecom FRA
Crédit Agricole FRA
Domina Vacanze ITA
Fassa Bortolo ITA
Discovery Channel USA