It was another tough day for Nairo Quintana (right) who's suffering as a result of multiple crashes at this year's Tour. He's pictured here with his brother Dayer.

Arkea-Samsic declines Giro d’Italia invite

Tour de France and Vuelta a España focus means no Giro return for Quintana or stage hunter Barguil.

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French newspaper Ouest France reported on Wednesday that Arkéa-Samsic has declined an invite to this year’s Giro d’Italia. As the second-ranked UCI ProTeam, Arkea receive an automatic invite to all World Tour one-day races in 2022. As the next team in the invite queue following the demise of Qhubeka-NextHash in late December, the French outfit could also line up for a full calendar of World Tour stage races, until the team reportedly declined the Giro invite, preferring to fully focus on a Tour de France and Vuelta a España grand tour combo in the hunt for all-important UCI points. 

The decision to skip the Giro will come as a disappointment to Warren Barguil, who indicated in December his intentions to target a full set of grand tour stage wins with a Giro stage win to add to his Tour and Vuelta success. Barguil told Le Télégramme in December, “This year, I’d really like to ride the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. We haven’t been invited yet but I hope that will be the case.” 

Alpecin-Fenix is widely expected to accept its automatic Giro invite as the number one ranked World Tour team. That, and the withdrawal from Arkea leaves three wildcard places up for grabs. Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso’s Eolo-Kometa squad won a stage in 2021 and will be hoping to line up for the Grande Partenza once again. Bardiani CSF Faizane’, and Gianni Savio’s Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli squad will also expect invites to the biggest race of their calendars. 

Despite never competing in the Giro, Arkea-Samsic has been among the teams rumoured to receive a wildcard invite to the Italian grand tour since 2014 Giro winner Nairo Quintana joined the French squad in 2020. Quintana was reported to be considering a Giro return in 2021, but ultimately Arkea-Samsic missed out on an invitation 12 months ago. Fast forward to 2022 and the team has seemingly decided to decline an invite, focusing instead on other objectives.

Arkea’s decision not only opens the door for another team to receive a Giro invite but could also prove costly in a year when every point could be vital in the fight for World Tour promotion and relegation. Cofidis, one of Arkea’s rivals in the bid for World Tour status, took a Giro stage win in 2021 and are usually good for a Vuelta stage win. While a climber friendly Giro route with just 26.3 time trialling kilometres, the fewest in 60 years, might have proved Quintana’s best hope for a return to GC success. This year, the clammer for UCI points bears extra importance with the top 18 teams at the end of the season set to secure WorldTeam licenses for the next three seasons, as discussed in this week’s CyclingTips podcast.

Arkea-Samsic will join B&B Hotels-KTM, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Team TotalEnergies as wild card invites for the Amstel Gold Race in its new date for 2022 between Flanders and Roubaix.

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