LONDON, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Twice Tour de France champion Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team were granted an automatic spot for the top cycling races of 2013, at the expense of world number one Joaquim Rodriguez’s Katusha team on Monday.

“The request from the team Katusha for registration in the first division has been rejected,” the International Cycling Union (UCI) said in a statement without elaborating.

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told Reuters that the decision had been taken by the independent Licence Commission, which makes its decisions on sporting, ethical, administrative and financial grounds.

Katusha were on the list of the top 15 teams by sporting value so were rejected for other reasons.

The status of Contador’s team was under threat because Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank finished outside the top 15 in 2012.

The decision means that Katusha, who finished second in the World Tour standings in 2012, will need invitations to take part in the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour of Spain and several top one-day and one-week races.