Orgnaisers of the Tour of Flanders announced Wednesday the seven wildcard teams that will take part in the Belgian Monument on April 7. Defending champion Niki Terpstra’s Direct Energie team will be on the start line along with six other wildcard invitees: Corendon-Circus, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Wanty-Gobert, Cofidis, Solutions Credits, Vital Concept-B&B Hotels and Roompot-Charles.
"The wildcard invitations given out in 2019 will see one of the strongest lineups of Pro Continental teams to date, with these teams all thoroughly prepared and eager to perform at the Tour of Flanders in April," said Scott Sunderland, the Flanders Classics’ general race director, in a press release.
Terpstra won last year's Tour of Flanders while racing for Quick-Step Floors (now Deceuninck-QuickStep). The Belgian team will be chasing a third consecutive victory after Philippe Gilbert won in 2017, but not with Terpstra, who signed with Direct Energie for 2019 and 2020.
"With last year's winner Niki Terpstra leading his new team, Direct Energie, he will be on the hunt to make it back-to-back wins," said Sunderland. "Terpstra's younger fellow Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), the freshly crowned world champion cyclo-cross star, will be wanting to make history himself by following in the footsteps of his father Adrie, winner of the 1986 Tour of Flanders."
Van der Poel’s Corendon-Circus team stepped up to the Pro Continental level this year, which gave the team a shot at wildcard invitations to some of the biggest races on the WorldTour. He will compete in a Spring Classics campaign with a stated goal of competing in Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold Race.
Van der Poel’s father, Adrie van der Poel, won the 1986 edition of the Tour of Flanders, and his son will no doubt want to secure the same achievement. Corendon-Circus have also signed Stijn Devolder, a two-time winner of Tour of Flanders in 2008 and 2009.
Native Belgian teams Wanty-Gobert and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise were granted wildcard invitations to the Tour of Flanders, along with Cofidis, Vital Concept-B&B Hotels and Roompot-Charles.
"As always, these teams will be determined to make an impact, to play an important role in how the race plays out and will be ready to race from the start," Sunderland said.
The seven wildcard teams will join the 18 WorldTour teams on the start line in Antwerp for the 267km race that features 17 hills and five cobbled sectors on the way to Oudenaarde.