The UCI has awarded the 18th and final WorldTour license to UAE Abu Dhabi, the successor of Lampre-Merida which was originally going to ride with a Chinese licence.
With their application for a WorldTour license being put on hold for financial reasons, the team will be in the peloton next year but it is transformed into a new project due to the arrival of new sponsors from the United Arab Emirates. The Union Cycliste Internationale announced on Tuesday that the WorldTour licence has been granted for the next two seasons to the team managed by Giuseppe Saronni.
In that same Tuesday announcement, the UCI stated that Pro Continental teams Soul Brasil and Verva ActiveJet were still under review by the license commission.
The news puts an end to rumors regarding the team’s future. Having signed top riders such as Louis Meintjes, Rui Costa, Diego Ulissi and Darwin Atapuma, the project’s existence appeared to be at risk when a December training camp was cancelled and the paperwork remained pending.
The granting of a WorldTour licence to UAE Abu Dhabi means there will be a full complement of 18 WorldTour teams in 2017.