WorldTour invite saga continues as Sagan to miss Strade Bianche

More teams decline World Tour invites in the hunt for World Tour status.

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As the World Tour wildcard invite saga continues, RCS has announced the wildcard invites for the spring World Tour races Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Milan-San Remo. While Alpecin-Fenix, Arkea-Samsic, and Team TotalEnergies were already guaranteed invites to the Italian triple-header, Peter Sagan’s new Team TotalEnergies squad has declined the automatic invite from RCS.

Just days after Arkea-Samsic declined an invite to the RCS organised Giro d’Italia, fellow French squad Team TotalEnergies has followed suit and declined the invite to the upcoming Strade Bianche. The decision means Peter Sagan will miss the race across the white roads of Tuscany and the opportunity to better his two-second places of 2013 and 2014 in Siena.

>>> How to watch races like Strade Bianche on TV in the US

UCI regulations treat long-standing WorldTour events differently from new races, and Strade falls in the latter category. The rules commit organisers of the one-day races that were on the UCI World Tour calendar in 2016 to invite today’s WorldTeams and the top three ProTeams. The WorldTeams and ProTeams, in turn, must participate in this frozen-in-2016 list of WorldTour races. As Strade Bianche only became a WorldTour race in 2017, the race and teams are exempt from mandatory invites and attendance, respectively. This rule allows Team TotalEnergies, third in the ProTeam standings, and Team Cofidis, a WorldTeam, to decline the RCS invite.

Strade Bianche is one of the few remaining races Sagan seems best suited to that is still missing from his palmares. The other noticeable absence from Sagan’s hit list is Milan-San Remo. As one of the first in the modern generation of all-round riders capable of climbing and sprinting, not to mention his remarkable descending skills, Sagan seemed destined to win at least one MSR. Again, though, two-second places, firstly in the snow shortened 2013 edition and later to Michał Kwiatkowski in 2017, are Sagan’s best finishes in San Remo.

As both Tirreno and San Remo were World Tour races in 2016, the top teams would face a fine for skipping these races. Presumably unrelated to the potential fine, Team TotalEnergies and Cofidis have accepted their invites to RCS’ later races. As such, Sagan will at least get the opportunity to take an MSR win this year, and will have the seven-day Tirreno-Adriatico to prepare. Team TotalEnergies will join Alpecin-Fenix, Arkéa-Samsic, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli, EOLO-Kometa and Gazprom-RusVelo plus all eighteen WorldTeams at the start line of both races.

Sagan, meanwhile, got his season off to a quiet start today, finishing in 100th place at the end of stage one of the 54th Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. The stage was won by Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan. 

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