2019 Giro d'Italia wildcard teams announced

Nippo-Vini Fantini, Bardiani CSF, Israel Cycling Academy and Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec have been awarded the four wildcard invitations to the 2019 Giro d'Italia, race organiser RCS Sport announced on Friday.

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec had already earned their selection by virtue of their overall victory in last year's Ciclismo Cup (formerly Coppa Italia) standings, part of a long-standing understanding between RCS Sport and the Italian professional cycling league. That left RCS Sport with three places to assign at the Giro on Friday.

Israel Cycling Academy and Bardiani CSF return after receiving invitations last year, while Nippo-Vini Fantini are back in the race for the first time since 2016.

Luca Scinto's Neri Sottoli Selle Italia squad, that have competed at every Giro since 2011, have missed out on selection this time around.

The final decision, initially due last week, was delayed until Friday as RCS Sport assessed the dossiers from the Pro Continental applicants, which included French squad Direct Energie.

2019 marks the final year in which RCS Sport can independently decide how to assign its four wildcard invitations. From 2020, as per new UCI reforms, the two top-ranked Pro Continental teams will have first refusal on wildcards to the three Grand Tours.

It was anticipated that RCS Sport might favour Italian Pro Continental teams in the final year of the current system, but Israel Cycling Academy successfully pitched for a second successive ride in the Giro, having added sprinter Riccardo Minali to their roster during the off-season.

Tour de France organised ASO has already implemented the new system in 2019, and recently confirmed that its first two wildcards for La Grande Boucle have been awarded to Cofidis and Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

RCS Sport also announced its invitations to Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo on Friday, while the wildcards for Il Lombardia will be decided at a later date.

Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KTM, Nippo - Vini Fantini - Faizanè and Vital Concept - B&B Hotels have been invited to Strade Bianche on March 9.

Bardiani CSF, Cofidis, Gazprom-Rusvelo, Israel Cycling Academy and Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KTM will line out at Tirreno-Adriatico (March 13-19).

The seven Milan-San Remo wildcards have been assigned to Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, Bardiani CSF, Cofidis, Direct Energie, Israel Cycling Academy, Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KTM and Team Novo Nordisk.

The 2019 Giro d'Italia gets underway in Bologna on May 11 and concludes in Verona on June 2.

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