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UCI decision could mean fewer American teams, more Colombians, at big U.S. races

Your favorite team may not be at the start of this year’s Amgen Tour of California — or Quiznos Pro Challenge, for that matter — due to a new UCI ruling. The cycling union announced Friday that non-European events must invite their regions’ top teams. For the U.S., the region is the Americas, and this means three Colombian squads may earn invites to the U.S.’s biggest races, likely displacing some U.S. teams.

On Friday the UCI published a preliminary ranking of 2011 Continental teams. The ranking is based on points obtained in 2010 by the best riders among the team’s 2011 members. The classification is similar in nature to the sporting rankings used to determine ProTeams for 2011.

UCI HC-, 1- and 2-classified races outside of Europe must invite the top three Continental teams in their regional tour. Included in that list are the Amgen Tour of California, TD Bank International Championship, Tour of Elk Grove, Tour of Utah and Quiznos Pro Challenge.

The UCI puts three Colombian squads atop the America Tour rankings: Movistar, Gobernacion De Antioquia-Indeportes Antiquia and EPM – UNE.

The decision has far-ranging implications for American racing. Continental teams on the bubble for entry into races like the Amgen tour may be overlooked. At the same time, promoters stand to lose sponsorship dollars from U.S. team supporters and may be required to cover expenses for the Colombia squads to travel to their events.

Representatives at Medalist Sports, AEG and Tour of Utah were not immediately available for comment. Stay tuned to VeloNews.com for more on this developing story.