Tour de France organisers ASO have announced that Cofidis, Europcar, FDJ and Saur-Sojasun will get the four wildcard places for July.
This leaves Geox-TMC out, the Italo-Spanish team had sought to improve itself following a lacklustre appearance last year as Footon-Servetto by hiring Denis Menchov (third overall) and 2008 winner Carlos Sastre but surprisingly this wasn’t enough to impress ASO. Rumours had been circulating that Geox had already been told they were out. From my perspective, as good as Menchov is, he does not create le spectacle so beloved of French TV and ASO and Sastre hasn’t delived a result for some time now. Still, it is a big decision, especially given that the potential absence of Contador means Menchov had to be considered a favourite to win in July, perhaps not on the same rating as Andy Schleck but on a second tier of candidates with Samuel Sanchez, Ivan Basso and Cadel Evans.
|Look closely and Coppel is there|
Geox’s loss is Saur-Sojasun’s gain. The French squad is a reasonable outfit and has Jérôme Coppel, who finished fifth in the Dauphiné last June, one place behind Jurgen Van Den Broeck. Clearly not in the league of Menchov but a prospect who at least deserves his chance. The guy now has an enormous amount of expectation on his shoulders. But he could finish as the first Frenchman and if he keeps up his progress, the top-10 is feasible providing everything goes right. If things don’t go to plan then, everthing else being equal, Saur-Sojasun will blow it’s chance. In short, they deserve a chance but are unlikely to get many more unless they deliver.