The International Cycling Union has granted the label Continental Team (third division) to 154 teams for the 2013 season. This is a record number after 131 teams registered in the category in 2011 and 153 in 2012. These teams are registered in a total of 46 countries on five UCI Continental Circuits.
Two new countries register a Continental Team for the first time: lâAzerbaijan (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) and Chile (Clos de Pirque-Trek).
The increase in the number of Continental Teams is significant in the UCI Asia Tour (31 teams in 2013 compared with 30 last year and 25 in 2011) and in the UCI Europe Tour (98 teams registered compared with 89 in 2012 and 80 in 2011).
This increase is a reflection of the growing popularity of road cycling and the globalisation of the sport.
âIt is encouraging to see a record 154 Continental Teams in the peloton for the 2013 season,â says UCI Road Coordinator, Matthew Knight. âThe cycle of teams limiting their operating budgets following an Olympic year is no longer the case. We are seeing new countries taking part in their respective continental circuits and the continued globalization of the sport.â
Launched in 2005 as part of the road cycling reform, the Continental Teams make up a world third division. They are registered in one of the five UCI Continental Circuits that correspond to their country of registration, but may also compete in all the Continental Circuits.
They can participate in events classed as 1.2 and 2.2 (such as the New Zealand Cycle Classic and the Tour de Bretagne), 1.1 and 2.1 (such as the Tropicale Amissa-Bongo) and 1.HC and 2.HC (such as the Amgen-Tour of California and the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race).
The Continental Teams participate in events according to invitations from the organisers. The best of them benefit from automatic invitations to their relevant Continental Circuit.
Photo:Â The Continental Road peloton will be bigger in 2013 (copyright: Mokhriz Aziz/Cycling Asia)