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by Shane Stokes
January 9, 2018
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Although the 2018 season is only getting underway, Tour de France organiser ASO has announced the invited teams for the Tour and two of its other races. Unsurprisingly, French teams have attracted the bulk of selection for those events, with the company picking those squads for 10 out of the 12 available slots.
The first of the events in the 2018 calendar is Paris-Nice, which runs from March 4 to 11. Cofidis, Solutions Crédits has been given the nod, as have fellow French teams Delko Marseille Provence KTM, Direct Energie and Team Fortuneo – Samsic. The latter has signed 2017 Tour King of the Mountains Warren Barguil, who is aiming for success again in 2018.
Cofidis and Team Fortuneo – Samsic will also compete in the Critérium du Dauphiné [June 3 – 10], as will French squad Vital Concept Cycling Club and Belgium’s Wanty – Groupe Gobert.
Three out of these four will then head to the Tour de France, with Vital Concept Cycling Club making way for Direct Energie. That race starts on July 7 and offers the biggest platform to the French wildcard teams to show themselves off.
Ditto for Wanty – Groupe Gobert, as sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren explains. “I have never doubted the selection, but it is still fantastic news. Participating for the second time in a row in Le Tour is a reward. ASO could not neglect us. With our offensive [attacking] debut in the Tour and final victory in the Europe Tour we did everything we could. I hope we can do better than 2017. Showing our team colours as much as possible and arriving in Paris with eight riders are our main goals. And why not a top-15 final ranking with Guillaume Martin or mixing in the bunch sprint with Timothy Dupont?”