Tour of Flanders announces seven wildcard teams for 2017

Pro Continental picks include three from Belgium, two from France and one each from Italy and the Netherlands

Tour of Flanders organisers on Tuesday announced the seven wildcard teams that will join 18 WorldTour teams in the April 2 race.

Toeing the line as wildcard picks will be three teams from Belgium, including Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, two teams from France in Cofidis and Direct Energie, along with Dutch team Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij and Italy's Wilier Triestina.

"We are really excited with this strong field of competitors," said race director Wim van Herreweghe. "The big guns have shown over the past weekend they are in great shape, and we are convinced a lot of them will want to battle it out on Flemish roads for that Ronde trophy on the first Sunday of April. We handed out the wildcards to teams that we are sure of they will be an added value. They will be intent on showing something on the international stage of 'Flanders Finest.'"

After years of starts in Bruges, Belgium's biggest bike race will start in Antwerp in 2017. The 260km race has a total of 18 official climbs – many of them cobbled – in store for the peloton.

Peter Sagan claimed victory in 2016, soloing away from a select group to take a solo victory nearly half a minute ahead of runner-up Fabian Cancellara. Sep Vanmarcke rounded out the podium with his second career third-place finish.

Wildcard teams:

Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
Wanty-Groupe Gobert
Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
Veranda’s Willems-Crelan
Cofidis, Solutions Credits
Direct Energie
Wilier Triestina

WorldTour Teams:

AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
Bahrein Merida Pro Cycling Team
BMC Racing Team
Movistar Team
Bora-Hansgrohe
Cannondale-Drapac Professional Cycling Team
FDJ
Lotto Soudal
Orica-Scott
Team Dimension Data
Quick-Step Floors
Team Katusha Alpecin
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo
Team Sky
Team Sunweb
Trek-Segafredo
UAE Team Emirates

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