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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

News Flash for May 23, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Team Bianchi official

The UCI announced Friday afternoon the official registration of Team Bianchi. The new team takes the place of Team Coast following the two suspensions imposed upon Coast by the UCI due to irregular payment of riders and a general uncertainty concerning the team's financial viability.

As of today, Team Bianchi is afforded a place in the Top Club, which grants the team all rights of participation to races on the international calendar. In a written statement, the UCI acknowledged the efforts of title sponsor Bianchi to salvage the situation facing the riders and staff of Team Coast.

"The independent legal and financial structure of the Bianchi Team, the willingness to commit to cycling for the next few years, the fact that this [trade team] is welcoming the whole of the riders and staff from Team Coast wishing to join it, as well as the economical warrantees provided, have enabled the UCI to approve the integration to the Top Clubs as they prove satisfactory to all regulation-aspects."

Given this placement of Team Bianchi in the Top Club, the team's entry into the 2003 Tour de France should be all but assured. The Société du Tour de France left the option open to replace Team Coast with another team if the suspension weren't lifted, or if this new trade team did not develop in sufficient time. However now that Team Bianchi has been granted official status by the UCI, the Tour would have no grounds to exclude the team, meaning Jan Ullrich should race the Tour, and Mario Cipollini has most likely seen his last chance for an invitation disappear

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)