Tour teams’ selection chances assessed
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Tour teams’ selection chances assessed

by Conal Andrews at 11:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France

An agreement made last year between cycling’s top squads and Tour organisers ASO will see sixteen ProTour teams guaranteed entry to the 2010 race. Other squads will have to rely on wildcard entries; l’Equipe, which is a stable-mate of ASO, traditionally has the insider line and assessed the chances of those who will be vying for a ride in cycling’s biggest event.

Those who have already been approved are the following: AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Caisse d'Epargne, Cofidis, Columbia, Euskaltel, Francaise des Jeux, Footon Servetto (formerly Fuji), Lampre, Liquigas, Milram, Quick Step, Rabobank, Saxo Bank and Silence-Lotto.

L’Equipe feels that three other ProTour teams are 99% certain to be invited to the race, namely the Garmin-Slipstream squad of Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde, as well as the new Radioshack and Sky teams. The newspaper feels that the Russian team Katusha is also a virtual certainly, ranking its chances at 95%.

Despite the fact that this total of 20 teams would – with nine riders each – provide a field of 180 riders, the newpaper quotes TDF director Christian Prudhomme as saying that two other teams could be invited.

If so, it ranks the Cervélo Test Team of this year’s maillot vert Thor Hushovd as being 80% certain to get the nod, while Vacansoleil and Saur-Sojasun (each 40%) and Skil-Shimano (15%) have a smaller chance.

With 22 teams, nine riders per team gives a peloton of 198 competitors; eight riders each would produce a field of just 176 riders.

What’s certain is that all bar the sixteen pre-selected teams will be doing their utmost to clock up strong results prior to the final announcement. Steering clear of scandal is of course also essential; if any teams threaten to bring negative publicity to the Tour, they will be given their marching orders. The same principle applies to the pre-selected squads. They are in the starting list, but any funny business and they will have to find another way to spend their July.


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