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by Shane Stokes
November 9, 2016
Photography by Cor Vos
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The possibility that Team Dimension Data could lose its place in the WorldTour in 2017 is fading after the UCI confirmed that a maximum of 18 places will be granted next season.
The governing body announced the news in a statement issued on Wednesday morning. It follows Tuesday’s meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC), where new regulations were agreed.
“Since the commencement of the UCI WorldTeam registration process for 2017, it has become clear that there are 18 candidates for UCI WorldTeam licences,” stated the UCI.
“With this in mind, the PCC has decided that for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, a maximum of 18 UCI WorldTeam licences may be issued.
“In the medium term, the ambition is to strengthen the competitiveness of elite level and therefore to set the maximum number of UCI WorldTeams to 17 in 2019 and 16 from 2020 onwards.”
There are currently 18 candidates for a place in cycling’s top echelon, including Team Dimension Data.
The South African squad stepped up to the WorldTour prior to the 2016 season but was ranked last, despite taking five stages in the Tour de France.
The team came under pressure when the UCI announced in June that the number of WorldTour teams would drop to 17 as part of a compromise agreement with Tour organisers ASO. The latter had been in dispute with the UCI over its WorldTour reforms.
While two of the existing WorldTour teams, Tinkoff and IAM Cycling, were set to leave the sport, two others have stepped up to fill their slots. Together with Team Dimension Data, new squads Bahrain-Merida and TJ Sport had been pushing for inclusion.
Increasing the number of possible teams to 18 means that one will no longer automatically lose out.
All teams applying for the 2017 WorldTour must still satisfy a number of requirements, including financial and ethical obligations.
As a result of this the final number of WorldTour teams might not be decided for several more weeks.
While it has been rumoured for some time Team Dimension Data would be given a green light to remain in the WorldTour, nothing had been confirmed to team management.
Today’s announcement will come as a considerable relief and motivate the team as it builds towards 2017.
Separately, the PCC has also green-lighted the introduction of new events to the WorldTour, with these being given initial three year registrations. All WorldTour teams will be invited, but participation is voluntary.
In addition to that, it has been decided that the UCI World Ranking points scale will now be used to also determine the UCI WorldTour Rankings. Previously two points scales were in existence, making things complicated.
UCI President Brian Cookson said that the UCI was pleased that the new regulations had been agreed upon.
“We welcome the robust changes which bring about clearer guidelines in relation to team licensing and provide greater financial stability for UCI WorldTeams, as well as expanding the series globally in a sustainable manner.”