Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme has warned that wildcard places in the event will not necessarily be the preserve of French teams in future years. The ASO’s four invitations for the 2011 Tour have gone to home-based teams in order to guarantee a sizeable French contingent at the race.
Prudhomme explained that this year’s wildcard selection was a product of the circumstances that saw France left with just one ProTeam, Ag2r-La Mondiale. With the 18 ProTeams qualifying automatically, ASO named FDJ, Cofidis, Saur-Sojasun and Europcar as the four wildcard teams in January, but Prudhomme is hopeful that there will be more French teams in the World Tour in 2012, thus opening the wildcard process to other teams from other countries.
“This year we have given the four invitations to four French teams,” Prudhomme told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I hope the French teams find their place in the first 18 [World Tour] because it will become more complicated to give out invitations. If an Australian team knocks at the door, or a Columbian team, or a Kenyan team - we will look at that very closely, of course.''
One of the teams eyeing Tour de France participation in 2012 is the new Australian GreenEDGE outfit, which is set to enter the peloton next season with ambitions of obtaining a ProTeam licence, or at least of winning invitations to a host of World Tour events. While Prudhomme was reluctant to discuss specific cases, he reiterated that foreign teams would be considered.
''I can't say we will take them [GreenEDGE],” Prudhomme said. “We don't know anything yet, but of course the candidature will be considered. We are not going to take the 18 [ProTeams] and then say, 'OK, only the French teams' [as wildcards]. Non…''