Giro wildcard invitations

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

RCS, organisers of the Giro d’Italia and other major races have announced the wildcard invitations for 2012. The 18 World Tour teams* are invited automatically, leaving the organiser to pick four teams to complete the list of teams. The idea is that the elite teams ride the biggest races but organisers are free to invite some extra teams, to bring in some more domestic riders or to ensure some exciting riders outside of the top teams can ride and bring something extra.

The four teams opening the prosecco today are Androni Giocattoli-CIPI, Colnago-CSF Inox, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia and Team NetApp.

It’s a tricky choice, in order to give some teams a chance the organiser has to exclude others. Indeed last year RCS bent the rules to get special dispensation for a fifth wildcard invitation, meaning 23 teams of nine riders and therefore 207 riders, above the normal cap of 200 riders imposed by the UCI rules. And in 2009 there was a fuss when reigning Italian champion Filippo Simeoni and the Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce were not invited.

In a bid to make the process more transparent RCS have set out the selection criteria in public. 14 teams made the first cut, now whittled down to four. In years past the wildcards were announced later giving teams a chance to impress race organisers with early season success but this also saw teams chasing selection for the race and arriving tired for the event itselt. Indeed this method is now on the way out, ASO also moved to announce invitations for the Tour de France in January.

The four picks mean eyebrows are raised as there’s no place for the likes of home team Acqua e Sapone, including riders like Stefano Garzelli and Danilo Di Luca. And many might have wanted to see Project 1t4i and Marcel Kittel in action but if his team is picked for the Tour de France then he might not even have started the Giro.

The choice implies the race organisers, under the new direction of Michele Acquarone, are aiming to open the race up a little with a few surprise candidates and NetApp are the wilder of the wildcard picks. A German team with a Californian sponsor, the squad took just one win in 2011 with Blaž Jarc putting his time trial skills to use in the 2.2 Tour of Gallipoli in Turkey. But the team did crack the top-3 in other races like the Tour of Austria and Tour of Britain last year. Obviously the Giro is going to be even bigger. There was talk of Columbia-Coldeportes getting a ride but for better or worse the most exciting Colombians are on other squads, for example Uran and Henao with Sky, Quintana with Movistar and Betancur at Acqua e Sapone; although Fabio Duarte is capable of giving RCS second thoughts.

But with Lampre-ISD and Liquigas-Cannondale the race will be very Italian. Farnese Vini should come with Andrea Guardini, the promising sprinter whilst Colnago-CSF bring sprinters like Modolo and climbers too; Androni-CIPI earn their place with the erratic José Rujano, a stage winner and seventh overall last year and the only rider capable of following Contador.

The race starts on Saturday 5 May in Herning, Denmark.

In addition RCS also announced the invitations for other races:
Tirreno-Adriatico: Acqua e Sapone, Colnago-CSF Inox, Colombia-Coldeportes, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia.
Milan-Sanremo: Acqua e Sapone, Colnago-CSF Inox, Colombia-Coldeportes, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia, Project 1t4i, Team Type 1–Sanofi, Utensilnord Named
Il Lombardia: Acqua e Sapone, Androni Giocattoli-CIPI, Colnago-CSF Inox, Colombia-Coldeportes, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia, Project 1t4i, Utensilnord Named.

  • * the 18 automatic invites are Ag2r, Astana, BMC, Euskaltel-Euskadi, FDJ-Big Mat, Garmin-Cervélo, Greenedge, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Liquigas-Cannondale, Lotto Belisol, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Rabobank, Radioshack-Nissan, Sky, Saxo Bank and Vacansoleil-DCM.
Marc Evans January 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Its a shame Team Type 1 didn’t make the cut. I remember reading in Phil Southerlands book that he met with the then organisers of the Giro (2010?) and was assured a place.

Larry T. January 10, 2012 at 6:59 pm

The Netapp choice makes no sense to me but not inviting Acqua & Sapone at least gives the organizers a defense against charges of pure nationalism. Garzelli and DiLuca are both past dope cheats and close to, if not past, their “sell-by” dates. I still believe the World Tour teams need to be whittled down to 14-16 so the organizers can have a bit more freedom to select a field for their races that both pleases the home fans and can give a chance to some other worthy teams.

SN January 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm

An Italian team with two Italian former winners doesn’t get picked?
Is this bizzaro-world giro?

The Inner Ring January 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Acqua et Sapone have some older riders with good rides to their name but it seems the organisers are interested in what riders can do tomorrow instead of yesterday. Farnese Vini and Colnago in particular have some promising riders. Still, selecting NetApp is a brave choice and I hope the team rides to the challenge in May.

In a twitter exchange race boss Acquarone told me that Europcar didn’t ask to ride the Giro or Lombardy. I can understand avoiding the Giro, the squad is not too big and they want their best guys for the Tour de France. But only the other day I heard Voeckler saying he wanted to win Lombardy, but this won’t happen in 2012.

Sally Gap January 11, 2012 at 6:49 am

I enjoyed Rujanos performance last year, I hope he goes well again.

What’s the story with Betancur, though? One prominent cycling news site has a report on him joining Liqiugas (referenced on his wiki page), yet there’s a denial (in Italian) from Betancur and A&S, talking about contracts, and joining Liquigas. I’m reading the Google translation, btw.

Actually, re-reading it again, it seems he signed with Liquigas, on the provision that A&S wouldn’t be around in 2012. Is that what happened?

Looking forward to seeing him in the coming year, he looks an strong, exciting racer.

Thanks for the blog, I’ve been following for a few months now, great job!

Ankush January 11, 2012 at 7:45 am

I was really looking forward to Coldeportes team to get a wildcard entry, just because their climbers could animate the race in the mountains. But for that purpose RCS went with Androni-CIPI which is understandable as they have Rujano & Sella. Hope to see Pozzato regain some form before the Giro.

cthulhu January 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

I think Netapp got the invitation because of what you said in your comment, it’s what the can do tomorrow. And they have some promising riders. Also did they made a quite good impression at last year’s Roubaix, their big race last year, much better than the comparable Bretagne-Schuller, even if a 3-week stage race is something different than a one day race, even if it’s a monument.
OK, and Heppner(and the 10th anniversary of his days in pink) will have helped a bit.

Touriste-Routier January 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm
trounder January 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm

In 1985 the Giro took a bit of a gamble on a bunch of neo-pros with two numbers for a team name and it made for some exciting racing that year. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out this season.

daniel January 12, 2012 at 6:30 am

NetApp are partners with the RCS Media Group, and also the ASO.

http://www.teamnetapp.com/en/partners/netapp
“Last but not least, NetApp is a long-standing partner of RCS Media Group (Giro d’Italia) and Amaury Sport Organisation (Tour de France), which are two out of three major organizers of bicycle races.”

If it wasn’t for their weak squad I do wonder whether they would have a wildcard (rather than Saur) to the Tour along with Europcar, Cofidis and 1T4I.

Disappointing that Coldeportes didn’t get into the Giro. I would be surprised and dismayed if they don’t ride the Vuelta (Geox don’t exist anymore). It will be disappointing if 1T4I get to ride it along with Cofidis, Andalucía and Caja Rural anyway.

daniel January 12, 2012 at 6:32 am

@Touriste-Routier

Let’s just be glad Acquarone didn’t have it all his own way..
“Not being able to have the Project 1t4i team at the Giro d’Italia… On my personal score sheet, they were first in the list. Behind them came Farnese, NetApp and Team Type 1.”

Matt Rendell January 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Shame about Acqua e Sapone: I’m with you re: Betancurt, youngest rider in the 2011 Giro and fourth, if I remember, in that monster penultimate stage. They boy’s got sth v. special – and isn’t going to be able to develop it this year. I also agree with your assessment of the new Colombian team: Duarte, yes, but otherwise, no great talents, Victor Hugo being 37. Eyes out for Nairo Quintana: sadly, he’s with Movistar – a move arranged, I gather, by the disgraced Belda…

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