This year, invitations to the Tour de France will be even more precious and scarce than they have already been in the past. With 18 ProTeams theoretically automatically invited to the Tour and 23 Professional Continental squads to choose from, it will not be an easy task for the organisers of the Grande Boucle, Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO).
Traditionally, the attribution of wildcards was done in spring, to give the teams some time to prove their worth. But this year, ASO's technical director Jean-François Pescheux revealed to Cyclism'Actu that the organiser wanted to designate the participating teams as soon as the end of January.
Moreover, "several surprises" could be on hand according to Pescheux. At the moment, only one French team is guaranteed of entry to the 2011 Tour: AG2R La Mondiale, which was given a ProTeam licence for 2011. With the other top French teams Europcar, Cofidis and FDJ all in need of a wildcard and certainly not more than 22 spots available, smaller French or foreign teams that had hoped for an invitation may get sidelined.
Cyclingnews was unable to reach Pescheux for confirmation.