Here we go, transfer season as started with news slowly trickling in of who is going where… or not. As soon more information can be shared publicly, the 2010 Transfer-o-rama will be published.
Why these rules? But before that, let’s take a look at the rules that impact team composition for UCI Continental Teams registered in the USA in 2010. Such a team is made up of a minimum of 8 riders and a maximum of 16. In a new rule to 2010, the majority of the riders must have US Citizenship and have a USA UCI code on their licenses, which means that if the team has 16 riders, 9 of them must be US citizens. Note that this number goes to 60% in 2011.
In addition to the 16 rider maximum, a team may have a maximum of four extra riders who are specialists in other endurance disciplines, such as track, mountain bike, or cyclocross, provided that these riders were in the top 150 of the final UCI Classification for that discipline in the previous season. And as of August 1, the team can also add two riders in the U23 class, provided these riders were not already on a UCI team.
The other rule is the age rule which states that the majority of the riders must also have a racing age of less than 28 – any rider born in 1983 or later counts as one of the young riders for the age ratio.
These rules are to create spots for younger riders in the teams, but what about the so-called older riders? Where are riders of 28 and over, with still many years of racing, supposed to go? In theory, non-US citizens and older riders should be a factor in the UCI Pro Continental teams but truly what is the incentive for a team to shell out more money to go up to that level? The only reason is if the team wants to race in big races in Europe and so must be in the Wildcard program. If a team is only interested in racing in North America, with maybe some forays to South American or smaller European races, then it is much better to stay at the Continental level and be able to race in NRC races. Remember what happened to BMC this year as they were forced to sit out and/or reduce their numbers at these races which are registered with USA Cycling. The eligibility rules for NRC races are still unclear.
BTW, in 2009, 3 teams – Amore e Vita, Colavita/Sutter Home and Rock Racing – had less than 50% of their riders as US Citizens.
Another rule that was added this year, and I like this one, is that all foreign riders must be licensed with USA Cycling and enrolled in the no advanced notice pool for drug testing with USADA. And part of the registration process will now erquire that teams to prove that each rider on their team has adequate medical insurance that covers sickness, accidents, and repatriation.
update: As pointed out by Dan M, the UCI has set the minimum bank guarantee as 20,000 euros or 15% of the salary package for the riders and staff for Continental teams this year. A tough blow for smaller teams.
Also, note that in 2010, the same rules apply to women’s UCI teams.
Onto transfer news. Let’s start with the ProTour teams registered in the US. The Garmin-Slipstream has announced 6 new riders to its roster: South African Robbie Hunter from Barloworld, coming from Fuji-Servetto Fredrik Kessiakoff of Sweden, Michel Kreder brother to Raymond who rides for the U23 Development team Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin, Johan Vansummeren from Silence-Lotto, Peter Stetina who is graduating from the development team and TT specialist Tom Zirbel who blitzed his way through time trials in the US this year. Chris Sutton is rumored to be going to the new British team Sky.
The new team, Team Radioshack (unknown if it will be registered in the US) will have Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Tomas Vaitkus, Grégory Rast. Chechu Rubiera, Sébastien Rosseler and Gert Steegmans.
The Columbia-HTC team has signed American Tejay van Garderen who is moving up from the Rabobank Continental team, Australian Leigh Howard and brothers Martin and Peter Velits. Kim Kirchen is moving to Team Katusha and 4 riders have been linked to Team Sky: Greg Henderson, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lovkvist and Morris Possoni.
The BMC Racing Team who is continuing as a UCI Pro Continental (aka division II) team in 2010 has added 7 new riders to the team: World Professional Road Champion Alessandro Ballan from Italy, three-time US National Professional Road Champion George Hincapie, Tour de France stage winner (2008) and 2007 Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt from Germany, second in the 2009 Amstel Gold Race Karsten Kroon from the Netherlands and three riders from Switzerland, Steve Morabito, Michael Schär and Simon Zahner. Team Director John Lelangue stated to cyclingnews that he expects to have a total of 21 riders in the team in 2010. The team this year started with 17 riders with Marcus Zberg retiring after a crash.
Kenda Pro Cycling remains a UCI Continental team in 2010 and increasing its program, with Jacob Rytlewski, Scottie Weiss and Chad Burdzilauskas announced as returning. Team Type 1 is also remaining as a UCI Continental team in 2010.
As for other transfer news, well let’s just say that many negotiations are still in process. And the last thing for those wondering, there are no minimum salary requirements for UCI Continental teams.
Women’s teams. US Road Race Champion Meredith Miller is returning with the TIBCO team for the 2010 season. Also, Emma Rickards has decided that she will retire at the end of this year as a rider, but will continue on with Team TIBCO in 2010 in the role of assistant director to Jeff Corbett.
Former World Champion Kristin Armstrong is retiring and has announced that she will work with the Proman-Hitsquad women’s cycling team in 2010. Her role is yet to be defined.
Tina Pic who is also retiring at the end of the year, will co-direct the Colavita/Sutter Home Women’s Cycling Team presented by Cooking LightUSA with her teammate Rachel Heal in 2010. Pic and Heal will take over from Iona Wynter Parks who is returning to her native Jamaica.
How about some cross news too? California Giant Berry Farms of Watsonville California and Specialized of Morgan Hill California are teaming up again for the 2009-10 U.S. Cyclocross season. The squad will feature Meredith Miller and three Elite Men: 2009 U23 National Champion Nick Weighall, two-time 30+ National Champion Justin Robinson, Chance Noble and top Northern California Junior Cody Kaiser.