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Wildcard teams announced for Vuelta a España

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The five wildcard teams for this year’s Vuelta a España have been announced Friday by race organisers Unipublic, with American hopefuls UnitedHealthcare being again passed over for what would have been its first Grand Tour.

Instead, the organisers have selected Spanish team Caja Rural–Seguros RGA, French duo Cofidis and Europcar, Team Colombia and the South African MTN-Qhubeka for the three week event.

These five squads will join the seventeen WorldTour teams, namely AG2R La Mondiale, Astana Pro Team, BMC Racing Team, Etixx-Quick Step, FDJ, IAM Cycling, Lampre-Merida, Lotto Soudal, Movistar Team, Orica GreenEdge, Team Cannondale-Garmin, Team Giant-Alpecin, Team Katusha, Team Lotto NL-Jumbo, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing.

Cofidis, Europcar and MTN Qhubeka had earlier been confirmed for this year’s Tour de France.

The nod to Caja Rural–Seguros RGA and Team Colombia will enable both teams to ride a Grand Tour this year; neither have a place in the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France.

The Vuelta a España will run from August 22 to September 13.

At the time of writing, only Team Colombia had reacted to the news.

Claudio Corti, general manager of Team Colombia, described it as a great day for the squad. “We will be honoured to bring the Colombian flag to the start of the Vuelta a Espana.

“For us, it is another big step ahead in our team’s evolution: after racing the Giro twice, we have now managed to earn the confidence of Unipublic, something we cannot wait to pay back with three weeks of aggressive racing in August and September.”

Colombia’s Sports Minister Andres Botero also gave a thumbs up to the announcement.

“The Spanish stage race has had an incredible role in our cycling’s history, becoming the first Grand Tour ever conquered by an Escarabajo in 1987, and the whole nation is excited at the perspective of seeing Colombia-Coldeportes battling on the Spanish climbs,” he said.

“It is an exciting day for our sport, and I wish to thank Javier Guillen and Unipublic for the confidence shown in this project. I am sure the team will live up to the expectations.”

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