Twenty five teams of six riders will be at the start of the Tour d'Azerbaidjan (May 7-11), including 2014 Vuelta a Espana participant MTN-Qhubeka as well as the Azeri-based team Synergy Baku Cycling Project. The teams include not only riders from all over the world, but four teams which are also riding in three-week Grand Tours this year.
The Tour was raised by the UCI to a 2.1 ranking, which allows it to include Professional Continental-ranked teams for the first time. Eight of these teams will be present: MTN-Qhubeka (South Africa), Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (Spain), Neri Sottoli (formerly Yellow Fluo) (Italy), Androni Giocattoli (Italy), Drapac Professional Cycling (Australia), Team Novo Nordisk (USA), Rusvelo (Russia), and CCC Polsat-Polkowice (Poland). Both of the Italian teams will also be sending squads to the Giro d'Italia while MTN-Qhubeka and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA will take part in this year's Vuelta a Espana.
"We are very happy to be able to greet these Professional Continental teams to our race for the first time, and of course the Continental teams again. This edition of the race promises to be the best ever, with a high-powered international peloton,” said head of the organization committee and Vice-President of the Cycling Federation of Azerbaijan Sahib Alakbarov. "We are proud to feature not only some of today's top riders but also the up-and-coming young riders who will soon be amongst the world's best.
"Some of these teams are traveling to us directly from the Tour of Turkey. This newly established Middle East block of racing will make it easier for the teams, as well as helping us to show the world the cycling talents we are developing here as well as the natural beauties and facilities of our country."
Sixteen Continental-ranked teams are also in the race: Itera-Katusha (Russia), Continental Team Astana (Kazakhstan), Kolss Cycling Team (Ukraine), Alpha Baltic-Unitymarathons.com (Latvia), An Post-Chain Reaction (Ireland), Team La Pomme Marseille 13 (France), Adria Mobil (Slovenia), Development Team Giant-Shimano (Sweden), China Huasen Cycling Team (China), Rapha Condor JLT (Great Britain), Leopard Development Team (Luxembourg), Gebrüder Weiss-Oberndorfer (Austria), Torku Sekerspor (Turkey), Tusnad Cycling Team (Romania), Rad-Net Rose Team (Germany) and Synergy Baku Cycling Project (Azerbaijan). In addition, the Australian National Team will take part.
The teams represent 22 nations from around the world, and will bring a total of 150 cyclists to the race.