In an event first, the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under will issue a wildcard invitation to an Australian Pro Continental team, the second tier of professional road cycling competition.
Tourism Minister Leon Bignell says the invitation reflects the commitment by race organisers and the State Government to cycling in Australia.
“South Australia has had a long-term commitment to cycling across a number of disciplines: track, BMX, mountain biking and of course road cycling,” Mr Bignell said.
“That has included securing and hosting national and international events and investment in infrastructure and programs.”
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said, “We have been committed to the development of cycling right from the start with the introduction of the Under 23 National Team in 1999, followed by the Under 23 United Water Team and then the Australian National Team (University of South Australia) after our elevation to ProTour status back in 2008.
“With the success and evolution of the National Road Series, the time has come to add an Australian Pro Continental team to the Tour Down Under peloton.” Mr Turtur said.
The Santos Tour Down Under will extend one wildcard entry to compete in the 2014 event to an Australian team which secures a UCI Pro Continental license for 2014.
The President of the UCI Oceania Cycling Confederation Tracey Gaudry backs the decision and has been involved in setting conditions for the wildcard.
“Providing a connected pathway from club level to elite international competition is vital for the development of cycling,” Ms Gaudry said.
“For the first time an Australian Continental team who achieves ProConti status will compete in the WorldTour – the highest UCI road event classification – against the world’s best teams, in their own backyard. This is a great step forward for cycling in Oceania.”
The following criteria are essential for a team to be considered for a wildcard entry:
• A UCI Pro Continental License for 2014;
• Acknowledgement as an Australian team by the UCI
• Registration as a Movement for Credible Cycling team, where teams impose stricter anti-doping measures beyond the World Anti-Doping Agency Code.
There were no Australian teams with UCI Pro Continental License in 2013. However, should there be two Australian teams to secure a license in 2014 and they satisfy all of the criteria, the team which has achieved a higher ranking in the 2013 Cycling Australia National Road Series (NRS) will receive the wildcard invitation. Preference will be given to a team registered in Australia.
Applications for a wildcard must be made in writing to the Santos Tour Down Under Race Director by 1 September 2013. For more information visit the Santos Tour Down Under's website.