Wildcards for Tour de France may increase
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wildcards for Tour de France may increase

by VeloNation Press at 11:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France

Getting a ticket to this year's Tour de France is going to be tougher than ever for teams looking for a wildcard invitation. With the emergence of the American RadioShack team of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, the new British outfit Team Sky, and most recently Cadel Evans' BMC Racing Team, the window of opportunity for Pro Continental teams is smaller than ever.

It's probably safe to assume that long-time French teams Bbox Bouygues Telecom and Cofidis will make the cut, and with 16 of the 18 places available guaranteed for ProTour teams, smaller teams like Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil don't stand a chance to make the race. Assuming Evans' BMC Racing team was extended an invite, one of the two French teams would also be left off the start list.

Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme realizes that an invite to the Tour can make or break a season for a team, especially when they are French.

It looks like the Tour organization is giving a glimmer of hope that would result in fewer teams being disappointed by missing the Grand Depart. Prudhomme said in an interview with the magazine La France Cycliste that the number of teams participating in the Tour de France might be extended. "I can't say anything now, but we are certainly considering an expansion to 22 teams," he explained.

Prudhomme went on to say that he has even considered 26 teams for the Tour further underscoring the fact that the problem needs to, and likely will be, addressed.

"Sixteen teams are sure of participation, but the choice of four or six wildcards is extremely difficult," continued Prudhomme.

"We will first wait for the final composition of the teams and their performance in the year, before we announce our selection."

For years there has been talk about increasing the number of teams in le Grand Boucle, but the problem has always been one of logistics. Even if the number of riders is cut by one to eight to make room in the peloton, the support staff that comes along with the team would significantly increase the the footprint of the race.


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