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Vacansoleil claims to be first reserve
The Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil teams were both disappointed to hear they had not been invited to ride in this year’s Tour de France.
The two Dutch Professional Continental were hoping for wild card invitations because the Tour starts in Rotterdam on July 3 but were overlooked by Tour de France organisers ASO. Both teams also missed out on places in the Giro d'Italia, which starts in Amsterdam and so will have to now create alternative race programmes for May and July.
Skil-Shimano rode the Tour last year, had hoped for another invitation. “Secretly, of course, you hope for good news,” Team Manager Iwan Spekenbrink told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. “The fact that they are only now deciding shows that it was not an easy choice.”
Spekenbrink acknowledged that his team was up against especially tough competition for a wild card spot this year. “We did well last year and have grown a step since then. But we also knew that with RadioShack and Team Sky, two big teams had been added, and that BMC had developed enormously. I will certainly not say that I don't understand the choice of teams.”
No invite for Vacansoleil despite signing Feillu brothers
Vacansoleil made its Grand Tour debut in last year's Vuelta a Espana. They also accepted ASO’s decision philosophically, despite having signed French riders Brice and Romain Feillu in the hope of securing an invitation to this year's Tour de France. "It is good to know where we are at so we can focus on what's next. The next few weeks we have beautiful classics in which the team will show what we are worth,” Team Manager Daan Luijkx said. “As well as doing at least one Grand Tour, we had a 2010 goal of finishing in the top three in a World Calendar Classic and a goal to be in front for the whole season. All those goals are still in reach. In September we might do the Vuelta a Espana, which we showed we’re capable of doing well in."
Vacansoleil directeur sportif Hilaire Van Der Schueren said he was “obviously very disappointed. There are teams who are athletically less than what we could provide. Look at Footon, a Spanish team full of youngsters.”
He blamed the system for his team's non-selection. “The organisers shared that opinion with me, but they feel bound to the rule about the 16 teams who have an automatic place,” he told Sporza.be. "Without those rules, there was a place for us in the Tour, that’s what ASO told me."
Van Der Schueren did have one consolation. "We are the first reserve, so you never know what might happen. In any case we are ready to participate if we are still selected.”