Team Argos-Shimano has received a wildcard invitation to the 2012 Tour de France, organizers ASO announced on Friday. The other three invitees are the French-registered squads Cofidis, Europcar and Saur-Sojasun.
Argos-Shimano was invited to the 2009 Tour de France when racing under the Skil-Shimano banner but missed out on wildcards in 2010 and 2011. The team rode last year’s Vuelta a España, winning a stage with Marcel Kittel, and has enjoyed a solid beginning to the 2012 campaign. Argos Oil was unveiled as the team’s new primary sponsor at a presentation in Rotterdam last week.
General manager Iwan Spekenbrink welcomed his team’s invitation, saying that it was as much as his outfit deserved for its progress over the past number of seasons. “It is a great reward for the hard work of all the cyclists and the entire staff, as well as for our partners’ faith in this ambitious cycling project,” he said.
A team with a reputation for nurturing young talent, Argo-Shimano’s Tour line-up is likely to be led by a duo of young German sprinters, Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb. Kittel enjoyed a fine debut season as a professional in 2011 and scored victory at Scheldeprijs during the week.
“We have a strong team and we expect to be able to achieve a stage victory in the sprint or by attacking,” co-manager Sissy van Alebeek said.