The four wildcard teams for this year’s Vuelta a España have been unveiled by the organisers. The list has a distinctly Spanish flavour, with Burgos BH, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Euskadi Basque Country-Murias making the cut, while French Pro Continental team Cofidis have also earned an invite once again.
The Vuelta a España is the last of the Grand Tours to confirm its full line-up of teams, with the Tour de France confirming its in March and the Giro d’Italia – which begins this week – announcing in January. As required by the regulations, all 18 of the WorldTour teams have been invited to the race.
There are no big surprises in the selection for the four wildcard berths, which mirrors that of last year, with only three Spanish Pro Continental teams fighting for a place in their home Grand Tour. Euskadi-Murias impressed on their debut last year, winning a stage through Oscar Rodriguez, while Burgos-BH have been invited back despite serving a team-wide suspension this year after multiple doping infractions. Caja Rural have ridden the Vuelta for the past eight years.
Meanwhile, Cofidis have not missed selection since they dropped down to Pro Continental level in 2010, thanks to their sponsor being one of the primary sponsors of the Vuelta. Cofidis have already earned a place in the Tour de France in July, but for the other three teams, it will be their only three-week race of the season.
The rules on wildcards are due to change next season and will likely reduce the number of national teams that a race can invite. From 2020, the top two Pro Continental teams will be automatically invited, leaving just two spots for the organisers to designate at their own discretion.
Under these regulations, Cofidis would automatically earn their place as the current top-ranked Pro Continental team. Spanish teams would be under pressure and could well miss out on slots, with Caja Rural the best-ranked in 15th among the Pro Continental outfits. Teams can decline their automatic invites, at which point the organiser would be able to distribute it how they please.
The Vuelta a España is due to take place from Saturday, August 24 to Sunday, September 15, starting in Torrevieja and finishing in Madrid.