Tour selection due in ‘early spring’, 22 teams to be invited
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Tour selection due in ‘early spring’, 22 teams to be invited

by Conal Andrews at 7:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

The selection of the teams for this year’s Tour de France is expected to be announced before the end of March and, according to Tour director Christian Prudhomme, will see an increased number of 22 teams invited to cycling’s top event.

It will be the first time since 2003 that such a high number will be present in the race, increasing the quota by two from the 2009 level of 20 squads.

"There are 16 teams who are certain to be at the start in Rotterdam, unless there is a serious breach of ethics as was the case with Saunier Duval in 2008, which became Fuji Servetto in 2009,” he told the French magazine Masculin.

“Last year, the Court of Arbitration for Sport had backed us in not letting it start our races.”

Prudhomme suggests that the Radioshack team of Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden is almost a certainty to be one of the six wildcards.

"We have many candidates," said Prudhomme. “And in our mind we have pre-selected almost 25. To meet these demands, we will present 22 teams in Rotterdam. It is obvious that some teams seem certain. I can cite RadioShack, for example.”

The sixteen teams that are, barring scandals, certain to be there are the following: AG2R-La Mondiale, La Française des Jeux, BBox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Quick Step, Rabobank, Liquigas-Doimo, Lampre-NGC, Astana, Saxo Bank, HTC-Columbia, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel Euskadi, Milram and Footon-Servetto.

Some of the others who must rely on wildcard selection are RadioShack, Team Sky (Wiggins and Boasson Hagen), Katusha (Kirchen and McEwen), Cervélo Test Team (Sastre, Hushovd, Haussler), Garmin Transitions (Vande Velde and Farrar), BMC (Evans, Ballan and Hincapie)  and Vacansoleil (Bozic and Hoogerland).

They will rely on both early season results plus the draw of their big-name riders to gain selection. However, as Prudhomme warns, any danger that these headline names could miss the Tour could in turn impact upon the team’s chances.

“I cannot confirm anything. Some teams take on a big name [to gain selection]. If one of them is injured and cannot compete in the Tour de France, the presence of the team in question would be less certain.

“However I don’t want to wait too long to announce the selections for the Tour de France, out of respect for the riders.”

It remains to be seen if the current French investigation into the 2009 Astana Tour team could affect the selection of the RadioShack or Astana squads. Infusion kits were reportedly found in the team’s medical waste; barring provable medical necessity, such kits are banned under French law and the WADA Code. Traces of contents of syringes are also being examined.

The team has insisted that it played by the rules.

From 2011 onwards, selection for the Tour de France is expected to be determined by the world ranking of the teams in question. A small number of Wildcard places are also likely to be awarded.

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