Flanders Classics announces six wildcards for Ronde van Vlaanderen
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Flanders Classics announces six wildcards for Ronde van Vlaanderen

by Ben Atkins at 7:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
 

ronde van vlaanderenRace organiser Flanders Classics has awarded wildcard spots to six Professional Continental teams for the Ronde van Vlaanderen – the Tour of Flanders – Het Nieuwsblad reports. The race, which will be held on April 1st this year, is part of the International Cycling Union (UCI) flagship WorldTour series, meaning that all eighteen ProTeams will automatically be invited to the race. With eight riders per team there is room for seven more, from the second division ProConti ranks.

Unsurprisingly, Flanders Classics has gone patriotic with places granted to all three of Belgium’s ProConti teams – Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas and Landbouwkrediet can all rest easy – while the other three have gone to some of the top second division teams from abroad.

Project 1t4i (formerly Skil-Shimano) and Europcar were both invited last year and so, unsurprisingly, they have also been lucky this time. Of last year’s other two French wildcard team’s FDJ-BigMat is now in the WorldTour, but Cofidis misses out for now. The sixth place has been awarded to Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli, with the British-registered Italian team’s signing of former Italian champion Classics specialist Filippo Pozzato evidently paying off already.

Eighteen ProTeams and six ProConti teams adds up to 25, meaning that there is potentially one more wildcard to be handed out within the UCI limit of 200 riders in the peloton. This final place, says Het Nieuwsblad, will be handed to the team that impresses most in the early part of the season; this gives Cofidis the chance to claim back its place, although it will likely be subject to fierce competition from any number of ambitious teams.

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