The biggest races on the cycling calendar regularly feature numerous wildcard entrants, whether they be Pro Continental, Continental or national teams. Although BMC Racing general manager Jim Ochowicz questioned the place of wild card teams at cycling's top level, arguing that their inclusion can create safety concerns, these smaller teams often outshine their WorldTour counterparts.
Stephen Cummings' stage 14 victory over Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot, two rising stars of French cycling, at the Tour de France for MTN-Qhubeka was the icing on the cake for the South African Pro Continental team, which had already enjoyed a week in the king of the mountains jersey via Daniel Teklehaimanot.
Pro Continental teams Cofidis and Bretagne-Séché Environnement have received wildcard invitations to the Tour in recent years and to the majority of ASO's races throughout the season, a situation that suits both team's budgets. Stepping up to the WorldTour level could be detrimental to both outfits, and as our inCycle panel discusses, the sport needs several layers of team sponsorship to fully function.
Watch the video below to find out how our inCycle panellists see the tiered structure of the sport and how to find a balance to keep all parties happy.
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