The Vacansoleil team has been assured that it will ride this year's Tour de France after talks with race organizer ASO, but the team has yet to decided if Riccardo Riccò will be part of the nine-rider line-up for the race.
“The uncertainty is finally gone,” team manger Daan Luijkx told Algemeen Dagblad. “According to the ASO, the 18 teams with a ProTeam licence will start the three Grand Tours. It is now one hundred percent sure that we can start. It is very nice that it happened. Now everything is already planned."
It will be the Dutch team's first appearance at the Tour de France. Vacansoleil rode the Vuelta a España in 2009 but did not receive an invitation to the 2010 Tour de France, even though the race started in the Netherlands. After two years as a Professional Continental team, Vacansoleil has obtained ProTeam status for 2011.
Decision on Riccò in May
"We'll almost certainly have a team of adventurers in the team for the Tour, without a designated leader, Luijkx said. “That suits us best and gives me the best feeling.”
Stijn Devolder and Björn Leukemans are expected to be on the Tour squad. Devolder, who rode for Team Quick Step the last three years and has ridden the Tour twice, abandoning in 2008 and finishing 82nd in 2009.
A decision on whether Riccardo Riccò will ride the Tour has not yet been made. The Italian tested positive for EPO-CERA at the 2008 Tour.
"He rides the Walloon classics and the Amstel Gold Race and then goes entirely for the final classification in the Giro. Whether he will also ride the Tour, we will see the end of May," Luijkx said.
If he does ride the Tour, Riccò would aim for a stage wins and not for the overall standings. “That seems impossible,” Luijkx said.