Michele Acquarone has told Cyclingnews that the WorldTour licence dispute between the Katusha team and the UCI has forced RCS Sport to delay announcing which teams will be awarded wild card invitations to the Giro d'Italia and its other races in 2013.
To help the teams plan their race calendar, RCS Sport had promised to award the wild cards on January 8. But with the status of the Katusha team up in the air, Giro race director Acquarone feels it would be unfair to reveal who gets to ride the Giro d'Italia, Strade Bianche, Giro del Lazio, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo and il Lombardia.
22 teams of nine riders can start the Giro d'Italia. 18 teams have been given WorldTour status for 2013 by the UCI and so have automatic invitations to all the WorldTour races. The Androni Giocattoli Professional Continental team is guaranteed a place after topping the Italian Cup team classification for 2012 and that leaves just three other places open to all the Italian and international Professional Continental teams hoping to ride the Giro d'Italia.
Acquarone and technical director Mauro Vegni both attended the Katusha team presentation in Brescia and spent time talking to the team's management in a side room before the event. Katusha would likely be given a wild card place but that would leave just two other places available at the Giro d'Italia, with numerous teams hoping for an invitation. Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez wore the pink jersey until the final day of the 2012 Giro, finishing second overall behind Ryder Hesjedal in Milan.
"We came to the Katusha team presentation because I wanted to see Rodriguez and thank him for what he did at the Giro this year. He's an exceptional rider and we wanted to offer him our support in this confusing moment," Acquarone told Cyclingnews.
"We had decided to award the wild card to all our races on January 8. But we're not obliged to do it. If things aren't clear, then we have to delay the announcement.
"It's a pity for all the other Professional Continental teams hoping for wild card invitation because we can't give hem the answers they were hoping to hear. Unfortunately it's not up to us. It's Katusha’s problem at the moment. We waiting to see what happens but it’s obvious that this confusion is not good for us and the sport."