Leopard Pro Cycling, a UCI Continental Team, has announced its disbandment after an unsuccessful bid to get promoted to the ProTeam level. This revelation appeared on the team’s social media channels and website and comes following the surprising news that its application to upgrade to the second division of professional cycling was rejected by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
The team, whose history dates back to 2013, expressed profound disappointment at the unsuccessful attempt to make the leap to ProTeam status. In a statement on their website, the team’s management expressed discontentment, explaining that despite their best efforts and meticulous preparation for the transition, they were not successful.
Leopard Pro Cycling stated that they were utterly disillusioned with the UCI’s decision, stating that they were convinced they had met all requirements and criteria necessary. This includes robust financial backing, a solid roster, and a comprehensive race programme. They were of the opinion that this offered valuable benefits to the cycling world, notably the potential to provide an avenue for young, aspiring cyclists to gain exposure and experience necessary for their development.
The team’s management elaborated that they were unable to comprehend why their application was rejected, given that it was an objective they had been working meticulously towards over the past two years. The team’s commitment to investing in the development of young talent was highlighted, as was their impressive record of elevating riders to the WorldTour level. The team cited the likes of Jasper Stuyven, Bob Jungels, and Pit Leyder as examples of riders who had begun their careers with Leopard Pro Cycling and had subsequently been able to make the leap to the top tier of the sport.
The management was perturbed that the UCI had factored in other teams’ histories and guaranteed spots in Grand Tours for teams of the next level given that guaranteed Grand Tour starts were not within the UCI’s ProTeam regulations. In contrast, the UCI reported they applied a diligent process of assessment and that all applications were subject to thorough scrutiny. Nevertheless, the UCI has not provided further specific information regarding the reasons behind Leopard Pro Cycling’s unsuccessful bid.