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Dutch teams feel the squeeze for Grand Tour invites

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Vacansoleil controls the peloton.

Vacansoleil controls the peloton. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Several Skil Shimano riders

Several Skil Shimano riders (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

While 2010 Giro d'Italia will start in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam on May 8, neither of the nation's two Professional Continental squads, Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil, will be there, after they missed out on an invitation to the Italian race.

The two Dutch outfits, both of whom had requested an invitation to the Giro, responded to their exclusion with a measure of diplomacy on Tuesday, as they look ahead to the Tour de France, which will also begin in the Netherlands, in Rotterdam on July 3. However, both remain aware that they will face an uphill battle to secure an invitation to cycling's biggest event.

Skil-Shimano team manager Iwan Spekenbrink told Dutch daily De Telegraaf that he believes the biggest obstacle to his team's second Tour appearance is the host of new teams that have entered the peloton.

"The peloton this year is very large," he said. "We all realize that the opportunity to participate in the Tour is limited by the arrival of new teams such as Sky, BMC Racing Team and RadioShack."

With a Rotterdam-based prologue a potentially enormous boon for the team's Dutch backers, Skil-Shimano will face increased pressure to secure results prior to Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation's final 22-team selection for the French Grand Tour. The squad has only secured one victory so far this season, with Robert Wagner winning the second stage of the 3-Days of West Flanders earlier this month.

In contrast to their rivals, Vacansoleil have topped the podium on five occasions this year, including Bobbie Tracksel's victory at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and Wouter Mol's overall success at the Tour of Qatar. Although disappointed, Vacansoleil's general manager Daan Luijkx was quick to look ahead.

"If we'd been invited to the Giro then we'd have certainly put a strong team forward," Luijkx told De Telegraaf. "It's unfortunate for Dutch cycling and Amsterdam.

"[I feel] we've performed strongly enough in the first months of the season to be a force [at the Giro], unfortunately, we didn't succeed. We now hope to get ourselves a ticket to the Tour."