Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport announced its wildcard invitations to the Giro d’Italia this afternoon, skipping over NetApp-Endura. Instead of the German/British team, RCS Sport went with Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox and Colombia-Coldeportes.
Androni Giocattoli already earned the first of four wildcard spots for winning the Italian rankings last year.
NetApp, though hardly known, received an invite last year and made its Grand Tour debut in the Giro. It placed second on two stages with Jan Barta and Bartosz Huzarski.
Over the winter, it merged with third division team Endura and welcomed the British sports clothing company as its second sponsor. Brits Russell Downing, Jon McEvoy, Erick Rowsell and Scott Thwaites joined and Brian Smith became the new Assistant General Manager. Though racing with a German licence, the new Brit influence seemed to help.
“The more a team has the ability to attract interest, the better,” Giro director, Michele Acquarone told Cycling Weekly this weekend. “We look to see what the team’s capacity is bring fans and attention along with its participation.”
The team received the nod to participate in RCS Sports other races Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Lombardy, but not Milan-San Remo.
Team Sky will compete in all RCS Sport’s WorldTour races as it is a first division ProTeam. Mark Cavendish, now with Omega Pharma-QuickStep, won three stages last year and Rigoberto Urán placed seventh overall and won the young riders classification.
The four wildcard teams to compete alongside the 18 first division ProTeams in the Giro, May 4 to 26. Colombian team, Colombia-Coldeportes got an invite after successfully competing in the organiser’s other races last year. It will make its Grand Tour debut.
NetApp-Endura will have to watch the race on television. It was left out with Novo Nordisk-Type 1 (USA), IAM Cycling (Swi), Landbouwkrediet-Crelan (Bel), Europcar (Fra) and Sojasun (Fra).
Russian team Katusha complicated the selection process after it failed to receive a 2013 first division licence on December 10. With Joaquím Rodríguez, the team placed second overall last year to Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp). It is fighting the issue in court, but remains without a licence and is unable to race.
“Katusha’s position has been judged as it stands today – a professional continental [second division] team,” read a RCS Sport press release. It invited it to race in its other races.
Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela, Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, Colombia-Coldeportes, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
Katusha, MTN-Qhubeka, NetApp-Endura, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela, Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, IAM Cycling, Katusha, MTN-Qhubeka, Europcar, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
Tour of Lombardy:
Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela, Colombia-Coldeportes, IAM Cycling, Katusha, Europcar, NetApp-Endura, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia