The 2015 season is looking likely to have 18 World Tour teams once again next year after it was confirmed that Swiss outfit IAM Cycling are poised to take the last World Tour licence available.
Cannondale vacated their licence after announcing they were merging with the Garmin-Sharp team, creating an extra spot for the 2015 season. IAM team owner Michel Thétaz had planned for the team to keep applying for wildcards into bigger races during the 2015 season, this was before the opportunity to become a World Tour team arose.
The licence guarantees entry into all of the Grand Tours which include the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, leaving just four places for wildcard teams to apply for.
IAM Cycling were one of the four wildcard teams at this year's Tour de France with a number of strong performances from some of their riders prompting them to step up from their current Professional Continental licence status.
A final decision will be announced when the licence commission meet towards the end of November.
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A spokesman for IAM Cycling said: “We have had talks about it in the last few weeks and it is the UCI who will decide the music.”
This could also be seen to be the case for the controversial Astana team whose World Tour place is under review from the licence commission after the UCI asked for a full review into Kazakh outfit.
Specifically the way the teams management and anti-doping procedures are run, after both Iglinskiy brothers failed drugs tests throughout the 2014 season putting a cloud over Vincenzo Nibali’s Tour de France success.
IAM Cycling’s profile around the world has been increased recently after Matthias Brandle broke the world hour record last week.
Surpassing that of cycling icon Jens Voigt who set the previous record at the end of September in his farewell to the sport, Brandle also impressed recently at the Tour of Britain with two stage wins back to back.
The signings of the popular French rider Sylvain Chavanel and classics specialist Heinrich Haussler in recent years have suggested that this was World Tour licence may be seen as the natural step for IAM Cycling.
With the additions of experienced Grand Tour riders in Jerome Coppel and Stef Clement added to the squad for the 2015 season.
However at least three more signings will be needed to comply with the 26 rider minimum requirement for World Tour teams before the season starts in Australia at the Tour Down Under in January.
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