The nervous wait for Pro Continental teams to learn whether they have been given the nod for the Tour de France has been extended this season, with the squads needing to hold on for several more weeks.
A number of wildcards are handed out each year by Tour organiser ASO. In the past two years these were made public on January 28 and January 14 respectively. At least some of the teams initially expected the same timescale this season.
ASO has however now confirmed that this year’s wildcards will be revealed at a later date.
A company spokesman told CyclingTips on Thursday that the announcement will be made several weeks from now.
“I don’t have the exact date, but it will be before Paris-Nice,” he stated. “Maybe the last week in February, or the first week in March.”
“This year we decided to announce the teams for Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine in January and then the Tour teams after that.”
Asked if the changed date was for ASO to see how the contending teams are performing in early season races, he downplayed such a suggestion.
“The choice is partly done already,” he said. “We have five or six teams so far, from which the final four will be made.”
The lineup will comprise those four wildcards plus the 18 WorldTour teams.
Beyond 2016, there is disagreement over the selection process for next year’s Tour. ASO has rejected the planned UCI reforms in the sport and said that it will move its races outside the WorldTour and instead rely on an invite-only system.
The UCI and other stakeholders are hoping that further negotiations will lead to an agreement in the matter.