Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank team was awarded a sought-after WorldTour license on Monday, confirming the Danish outfit’s place in cycling’s elite division for the 2013 season.
Saxo, along with French outfits AG2R La Mondiale and FDJ and Belgian team Lotto, retained their place in the 18-strong top division, providing them automatic entrance to the sport’s marquee races. However there was no place for Katusha, which means the Joaquim Rodriguez-led Russian outfit will have to rely on invitations from organisers to take part in the grand tours, one-day classics and other principal events.
The only change from last season is the inclusion of Dutch outfit Argos, who feature young German duo Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb. The sport’s governing body the UCI did not provide any reason concerning the refusal to grant Katusha WorldTour status. “The request from the team Katusha for registration in first division has been rejected,” d the federation in a statement. “In accordance with UCI regulations, this team’s application has been forwarded to the UCI administration, so that the latter may assess the possibility of registering this team as a UCI Professional Continental Team.”
Aside from sporting performance, the UCI’s Licenses Commission also takes ethical and financial criteria into account. “Purito” Rodriguez, 33, claimed victory in the Fleche Wallonne classic as well as the Tour of Lombardy this year. The Spaniard also finished second at the Tour of Italy and third in the Tour of Spain as he claimed top spot in the year-end WorldTour standings. Russian Denis Menchov, a two-time winner of the Vuelta and 2009 Giro champion whose name was mentioned in connection with disgraced trainer Michele Ferrari in October, is another notable member of the Katusha team.