Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani CSF, Colombia and Yellow Fluo have all been selected as wildcard teams for the 2014 edition of the Giro d’Italia.
The four wildcard teams join the 18 WorldTour squads in the opening Grand Tour of the 2014 season, which will depart from Belfast on May 9. Each of the 22 teams will field nine riders apiece.
Androni Giocattoli had already been seleted as a wildcard team after winning the Italian Cup, but the three reminaing wildcard places were put out to public vote from a shortlist of eight. Caja Rural, IAM Cycling, MTN-Qhubeka, United Healthcare and Wanty all missed out on a spot.
The inclusion of Yellow Fluo, formerly known as Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, will raise some eyebrows. Two of the team’s riders, Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio, returned positive results for banned blood booster EPO in tests related to the 2013 Giro.
RCS Sport said in a statement: “The choices made, especially for the wild cards of the Giro d’Italia, were dictated by the opportunity – at this moment in history – to support the Italian cycling movement, without ever losing sight of the goal of international development.”
Douglas Ryder, team principal of MTN-Qhubeka, expressed disappointment at his squad’s non-selection for the Giro: “I am of course really disappointed, we put a huge amount of effort into our bid document and really wanted the chance after proving our worth in races in 2013.
“I am a firm believer of if one door closes another opens so we will stay focused and continue to work hard. Our riders know that their sporting success in the WorldTour will inspire more cyclists in Africa to get involved in the sport and that keeps us motivated. We clearly need to do more to get into a grand tour but we are very happy to be back in Tirreno and Milan.”
In addition to the Giro wildcard places, RCS Sport announced the wildcard teams for its other WorldTour races: Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia.
Bardiani CSF, MTN-Qhubeka, IAM Cycling and NetApp-Endura will all take part in Tirreno-Adriatico over March 12-18.
Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani CSF, IAM Cycling, MTN-Qhubeka, NetApp-Endura, UnitedHealthCare and Yellow Fluo will attend Milan-San Remo on March 23.
Caja Rural gets a look in for Il Lombardia on October 5, along with fellow wildcards Androni Giocattoli, Bardiana CSF, Colombia, IAM Cycling, NetApp-Endura and Yellow Fluo.