The organisers of the Giro d’Italia have announced the wild card invitations to the 2018 race, with the four places alongside the 18 WorldTour teams going to Israel Cycling Academy, Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani CSF and Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia.
For a second year there is no place for Italian Professional Continental team Nippo-Vini Fantini meaning 2004 Giro d’Italia winner Damiano Cunego will not enjoy a fairy-tale end to his career. However the team was given the consolation of wild card places at Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico.
The Irish Aqua Blue Sport team also missed out despite winning a stage at the Tour de Suisse with US national champion Larry Warbasse and a stage at the Vuelta a España with Stefan Denifl.
Race director Mauro Vegni recently suggested that the selection of the wild cards would pay attention to the Italian cycling scene but also consider RCS Sport’s current and future business interests. In 2017, the Gazprom and CCC-Sprandi teams have secured wild card invitations ahead of the Italian outfits.
Israel Cycling Academy was widely expected to secure a wild card invitation to the Giro d'Italia after bolstering its roster for 2018 and because the Corsa Rosa will start in Israel on May 4.
Androni Giocattoli missed out on a place in 2017 but secured their place by winning the season-long Ciclismo Cup in 2017. The Bardiani CSF team was considered at risk of missing out in 2018 after Nicola Ruffoni and Stefano Pirazzi failed doping tests, with the news emerging after they had attended the team presentation on the eve of the race in Sardinia.
Nippo-Vini Fantini finished 13th in the 2017 UCI Europe team ranking, ahead of their Italian rivals. However, Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia can count on young sprinter Jakub Mareczko, and Bardiani CSF have signed Andrea Guardini from Astana.
RCS Sport also revealed the teams invited to Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo. RCS Sport said the teams for the end of season Il Lombardia will be revealed “after evaluating all the results of the teams that have requested participation at the race.”
Androni Giocattoli and Nippo-Vini Fantini have been invited to Strade Bianche. Gazprom, Israel Cycling Academy, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia will be riding Tirreno-Adriatico.
Cofidis join all those teams amongst the seven teams invited to Milan-San Remo, giving Nacer Bouhanni a chance of victory at La Primavera after three finishes in the top ten in the last three years.
There is no place for Wout Van Aert and his Crelan-Charles at Strade Bianche despite the cyclo-cross world champion being keen to test his racing skills in spring Classics such as Strade Bianche and Paris-Roubaix.
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