Giro d’Italia wildcards announced: Emphasis on Italian teams for Grand Tour

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Following on from last week’s announcement of the wildcards for the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia race organiser RCS Sport has announced the Pro Continental teams it will invite to the Italian Grand Tour as well as three of its other events.

With the latter trio – Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo and Il Lombardia – each being WorldTour events, the seventeen teams in that category have automatic invites.

These are AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, BMC Racing Team, Etixx-Quick Step, FDJ, IAM Cycling, Lampre-Merida, Lotto Soudal, Movistar, Orica GreenEDGE, Cannondale-Garmin, Giant-Alpecin, Team Katusha, Team Lotto NL-Jumbo, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing.

In addition to that, four Italian teams have been listed for the Giro, namely Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani CSF, Nippo – Vini Fantini and Southeast Pro Cycling Team.

The latter is a controversial selection as it has had three positive tests in the past two years. The riders concerned were Danilo di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio, who were racing with the team when it was titled Vini Fantini-Selle Italia in 2013, and Matteo Rabottini. The latter was snagged last season after the team’s title sponsorship was taken over by Neri Sottoli.

RCS Sport appeared to defend its choice in the announcement, noting that the team’s participation was secured as it had won the Italian Cup series in 2015. This has traditionally led to a Giro ride.

A fifth team was also confirmed, and thus blocks the participation of others seeking selection such as Colombia and UnitedHealthcare.

The squad is the Polish outfit CCC Sprandi Polkowice. It includes the Italian former Classics winner Davide Rebellin, who himself tested positive at the 2008 Olympics.

RCS Sport Head of Cycling Mauro Vegni acknowledged the Italiano-centric choices. “As per every previous year, we reflected deeply on the wild card choices; an increasingly meticulous process thanks to the quality of the teams that want to participate in our races,” he said.

“This year’s choices, especially for the wild cards of the Giro d’Italia, were dictated by the opportunity to support the Italian cycling movement, giving continuity to an overall process without ever losing sight of the goal of international development in strategic territories.”

The three other WorldTour events come from wider origins. Italian team Bardiani CSF is joined by Colombia, MTN-Qhubeka (South Africa), Europcar (France) and Bora-Argon 18 (Germany) in Tirreno-Adriatico, which runs from March 11 to 17.

A total of eight wildcards have been announced for Milan-Sanremo (March 22), with Androni Giocattoli and Bardiani CSF getting the nod, along with Bora-Argon 18, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Colombia, MTN-Qhubeka, the American all-diabetic Team Novo Nordisk and French team Cofidis.

Eight wildcards have also been allocated to Il Lombaria (October 4). This is similar to the lineup as for Milan-Sanremo, although Cofidis, MTN-Qhubeka and Team Novo Nordisk have been replaced by Nippo-Vini Fantini, Southeast Pro Cycling and UnitedHealthcare.

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