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The management of the new Australian Pegasus Sports professional cycling team has conceded that it will not receive a ProTeam license for 2011 and will register as a UCI Professional Continental team for the coming season.
On Tuesday the UCI released a list of teams ranked by sporting criteria and Pegasus was not among the teams eligible for ProTeam status.
The team has expanded its existing UCI Continental program and made several significant signings for 2011, including sprint ace Robbie McEwen, Svein Tuft, silver medalist in the world championship time trial; former Olympic and world team pursuit champion Luke Roberts and Tour de France stage winner Robbie Hunter.
Chris White, CEO of Pegasus Sports, said that the team had hoped to debut at the top level in 2011. “We were officially informed by the UCI today that we are not among the top 20 ranked teams, which means that we will be a Pro Continental team for 2011,” said White. “It was certainly our goal to be a ProTeam in 2011, and we are a little disappointed, but we accept the decision of the UCI.
“It was just a matter of sporting criteria, and other teams being ranked more highly than us,” he added. “From a competition perspective, this does not change things significantly, and we will still participate at the highest level of cycling and plan to be in the biggest races in the world.”
ProTeam licenses are being awarded based on sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria, and with sporting criteria having the greatest weighting. The UCI calculated the team rankings based on the 2009 and 2010 results of the top 15 riders on the 2011 teams. Pegasus Sports was ranked 23rd in this process. The UCI stated that only teams ranked inside the top 20 on sporting performance would be considered for one of the 18 available licenses.
“We had hoped to start in the top division, but we always knew this would be difficult to achieve as a first time applicant,” said White. “There are actually some benefits to us starting as a Pro Continental team; getting a year under our belt in Europe, and then hopefully moving up to ProTeam level the following year.”
White noted that several other teams have followed the same route to ProTeam status.
“We are excited and proud to be the first Australian team to participate in the most important races in the world,” he said. “We are in contact with several major race organizers and we are confident that we will have a great program next year and that we will achieve great things. We are also convinced of the additional value we offer in terms of our vision for the modernization of cycling and our contribution to globalizing cycling.”