Vacansoleil boss calls for political help with tour wildcard
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vacansoleil boss calls for political help with tour wildcard

by Ben Atkins at 11:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Spring Classics

wouter molAfter missing out on invitations to the Giro d’Italia and the Walloon classics double of la Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Vacansoleil team manager Hilaire Vanderschueren is calling for politicians to step in to make sure that the Dutch team secures a wildcard for July’s Tour de France.

With the Giro d’Italia starting in the Netherlands’ capital Amsterdam, the two Dutch Professional Continental teams Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil might have thought they were likely to be invited. Instead, the race organisers RCS Sport favoured Italian teams in its home tour. Flèche and Liege organiser ASO, which also organises the Tour de France, also favoured Italian Pro Continental teams over the Dutch ones, partly due to the high proportion of Italian immigrants in the part of Liege that la Doyenne passes though.

Both Dutch teams were disappointed not to get these invitations, but the main goal of the year is to be invited to the Tour de France; they would both be devastated to miss out in July.

Like the Giro, the Tour de France also starts in the Netherlands, in the port city of Rotterdam. He argues that since the start is being at least part financed by Dutch taxpayers’ money, the government should insist on there being more Dutch teams invited.

So far, the only team from the Netherlands to be invited to the Giro and the Ardennes is the country’s solitary ProTour team Rabobank.

“Politicians need to act immediately,” Vandershueren told the Algemeen Dagblad. "The organization of the start of the Tour also uses public money, the government should say: ‘ho, ho, ho. We are investing money for it to ride a few days in the Netherlands. It should also include a second Dutch team.’"

While Skil-Shimano was invited to last year’s Tour de France, Vacansoleil currently looks best positioned of the two to be at the start in Rotterdam. Not only did Wouter Mol win ASO’s Tour of Qatar, but the team also signed up Brice and Romain Feillu over the winter. The Feillu brothers are regarded as two of the best emerging French talents, which the team hopes will mean they will be wanted at the Tour.


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