ASO announces four wildcards for Paris-Nice
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ASO announces four wildcards for Paris-Nice

by Ben Atkins at 11:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
 
Bretagne-Schuller the only French ProConti team to miss out

paris-niceRace organiser ASO has announced names of the four Professional Continental teams that have been awarded wildcards for this year’s Paris-Nice. The race is part of the International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour, meaning that all eighteen ProTeams are automatically invited – and, indeed, required to attend – but the four remaining places can be awarded to the ProConti team of the organiser’s choice.

As it did last year, ASO has been largely patriotic with its invitations, awarding three of the four to French teams, although – unlike in 2011 – it has also gone abroad with the inclusion of Dutch team Project 1t4i. The Dutch team missed out on many of the season’s biggest races last year – when it was called Skil-Shimano – and so will be delighted with this invitations, as well as the ones it also received for the Amstel Gold Race today, and the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Monday.

There is no surprise in the three French teams that have been invited, since Cofidis, Saur-Sojasun and Europcar all rode last year’s Tour de France – which ASO also organises. The French team to miss out though, is the fourth French ProConti team Bretagne-Schuller, which was invited last year and had expected to be there again this time.

The omission does not leave the team’s manager Joël Blévin confident about its chances of making the list of invitations for the Tour de France in July, which is the team’s biggest aim for the year.

"It's a blow,” Blévin told le Telegramme, after having been informed of the decision by ASO. “I know Saur[-Sojasun] was not selected for Paris-Nice last year and rode the Tour, but it does not bode well.

"As FDJ[-BigMat] is automatically qualified this year, we had reason to be optimistic,” he explained “The four invitations would logically go back to four French second division teams: Europcar, Cofidis, Saur and us."

The team, which barely registered in the results of last year’s edition, has added strength, Blévin claims, adding former French champion Dimitri Champion from AG2R La Mondiale, and Geoffroy Lequatre from RadioShack; it also includes three of the great hopes of French cycling in Johan Le Bon, Laurent Pichon and Romain Hardy.

"I can not imagine not going to the Tour...” Blévin said “But if we were not departing from Liège, it would be my failure and, in that case, I would submit my resignation to the Executive Team.

The team is not ours, it belongs to Britanny,” he reasoned, “and if we did not go to the Tour, it would be an affront to the Breton fans.”

The 90th edition of the Race to the Sun will run between March 4th and 11th.

Invited teams

18 ProTeams
AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)
Astana Pro Team (Kaz)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (Esp)
FDJ-BigMat (Fra)
Garmin-Barracuda (USA)
Greenedge Cycling Team (Aus)
Katusha Team (Rus)
Lampre-ISD (Ita)
Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita)
Lotto Belisol Team (Bel)
Movistar Team (Esp)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step (Bel)
Rabobank Cycling Team (Ned)
RadioShack-Nissan (Lux)
Sky Pro Cycling (GBr)
Team Saxo Bank(Den)
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team (Ned)

4 Professional Continental “wildcard” teams
Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne (Fra)
Project 1t4i (Ned)
Saur-Sojasun (Fra)
Team Europcar (Fra)

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