Earlier today, the UCI announced their ruling on the final three teams that had appealed after their initial registration for a Pro Continental license has been refused. After a hearing involving the teams, the Management Committee decided to reject the registration of the US team Rock Racing while it approved Androni Giocattoli (VEN) and Xacobeo Galicia Team (ESP).
No more information was given as to the reason of the rejection.
That makes it the second year in a row to be rejected. In 2008, Rock Racing had also submitted its candidature to get the Pro Conti license but was refused due to one or more non-conformities and decided not to appeal. Meanwhile, in the period between submission of paperwork and official denial (on Dec 2nd 2008), owner Michael Ball stated on a November 21 interview with Bicycling Magazine that the team had decided to stay at the Continental level and not pursue a Pro Continental license.
The team then received their Continental license in extremis on January 16.
Let’s not forget that last year, in order to meet the age requirements for a Continental license, Rock Racing moved riders such as 2008 US Criterium Champion Rahsaan Bahati, two-time US Time Trial Champion Chris Baldwin, Olympian Glen Chadwick winner of the Tour of Arkansas and Vuelta Mexico stage races in 2008, Caleb Manion, Michael Creed and more into an amateur team. Which meant that none of these riders could race in a UCI event.
The team was also in the news in January 2009 when Baden Cooke threatening to sue Rock Racing owner Michael Ball for the promised money from his contract worth “many hundreds of thousands of dollars”.
In April, 2008 national road champion Tyler Hamilton confirmed that he had tested positive for a banned substance in an herbal supplement he used to treat depression. Hamilton announced his retirement at the same time. That was soon followed by the firing of three riders, Creed, Baldwin and Cesar Grajales from the amateur team. And news about salaries being cut, and rumors of unpaid riders.
So what does it take to request a UCI Pro Continental license?
By November 15, the team had to submit all the documents and information required for the audit: the budget, the sponsorship contracts duly signed with the principal partners, the bank guarantee, at least 10 contracts with riders duly signed by both parties and for new teams only, a description of the structure of the team and a copy of the deed of incorporation of the paying agent. And a registration fee of course.
The total of the bank guarantee must represent a quarter of all the gross sums to be paid by the professional continental team to the riders and persons contracted for the operation of the team during the registration year plus the amount of CHF 15,000.00. The total amount of the bank guarantee cannot be less than CHF 300,000.
What’s next? Will Rock Racing pursue a Continental license?
Last week, Gilbert Simoni’s agent said that his client was in talks to join the team but it all depended on the UCI license. Floyd Landis and Jonathan Patrick McCarty were also rumored to join the 2010 roster.
No official statement from Rock Racing at this point.