Tour of Flanders wildcards announced

The first six wildcard places for the 2012 Tour of Flanders have been announced, with organising body Flanders Classics handing invitations to Farnese Vini-Selle Italia, Project 1t4i, Europcar, Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas and Landbouwkrediet.

One further wildcard spot will be allocated based on performances during the early part of the season, while the 18 WorldTour squads are automatically invited to the race.

Monday’s announcement means that Filippo Pozzato will again be among the contenders at the De Ronde. The Italian took something of a calculated gamble in stepping down from WorldTour level to join Farnese Vini-Selle Italia in the off-season, but his new team has already secured invitations to the Giro d’Italia and Milan-San Remo.

The 2012 Tour of Flanders takes place on April 1, and will feature significant changes to the route. The race finish has been moved from Meerbeke to Oudenaarde, while the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Boserg will no longer be the final two climbs. Instead, the peloton will tackle the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg three times in the finale.

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