Vuelta a España announces teams invited to 2012 race
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Vuelta a España announces teams invited to 2012 race

by Ben Atkins at 6:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Argos-Shimano and Cofidis join two Spanish Wildcards in the year's third Grand Tour

vuelta a espanaUnipublic, the organiser of the Vuelta a España, has announced the teams that will be invited to this year’s race, which will start with a team time trial in the Navarran regions capital, Pamplona. As part of the International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour, the eighteen first division ProTeams are automatically invited to the year’s third Grand Tour, but Unipublic has awarded four ‘Wildcard’ invitations to second division Professional Continental teams.

Unsurprisingly, the two Spanish ProConti teams, Caja Rural and Andalucía, have been invited. Both teams will doubtless be relied upon to liven up the early kilometres of each stage, with optimistic, but almost inevitably fruitless, attacks. Both teams also doubtless rely on an invitation to the race for the continued support of their sponsors, and will surely be breathing a little sigh of relief with the news.

French team Cofidis has been given the third sport, for two major reasons. Firstly, the French team’s star climber David Moncoutié has won the mountains jersey on each of the last four years, taking a stage victory each time; the 36-year-old now is just one behind all-time leader José Luis Laguía, who took five titles in the 1980’s. The other big reason for the team’s invitation is that the team’s sponsor Cofidis is one of the race’s larger sponsors.

The fourth, and final, invitation has been extended to Dutch team Argos-Shimano [previously Project 1t4i - ed]. After missing out on a number of major races in recent years, the ambitious team is finding itself favoured by most this season. In its previous incarnations of Skil-Shimano, the team missed out when the race started in its home country of the Netherlands in 2009; it made the list last year, with young German sprinter Marcel Kittel picking up his maiden Grand Tour stage victory, and is delighted to have found favour again this time.

“La Vuelta is a major, important race,” sad Argos-Shimano team manager Iwan Spekenbrink. “Our cyclists, our staff and our sponsors are anxiously looking forward to this. We would like to thank the organiser for his faith in us.”

“We have a strong team, who will start at Pamplona with ambition,” added co-manager Sissy van Alebeek. “We will attempt to contend for success with a strong collective, via the attack or in the sprint.”

The Vuelta a España is often used by World championship hopefuls, who use the race to hone their form for the event that falls just two weeks after the finish in Madrid; the 2011 edition of the race was won by Juan José Cobo (pictured), whose victory was not enough to prevent the folding of his Geox-TMC team.

Vuelta a España 2012 (WT) August 18th-September 9th

Eighteen ProTeams
AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)

Astana Pro Team (Kaz)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa)

FDJ-Big Mat (Fra)
Garmin-Barracuda (USA)

GreenEdge Cycling Team (Aus)

Katusha Team (Rus)

Lampre-ISD (Ita)
Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita)
Lotto Belisol Team (Bel)

Movistar Team (Spa)

Omega Pharma-Quick Step (Bel)

Rabobank Cycling Team (Ned)

Radioshack-Nissan (Lux)
Sky Procycling (GBr)

Team Saxo Bank (Den)

Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team (Ned)

Four “Wildcard” Professional Continental teams
Andalucia (Spa)
Caja Rural (Spa)

Cofidis, le crédit en ligne (Fra)
Team Argos-Shimano (Ned)

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