Team Sky has not been invited to this year’s Montepaschi Strade Bianche one-day race in Italy.

The British team learnt they had been left off the start list by organisers RCS when they read the news on the internet.

Fourteen teams were named, only half of which are World Tour teams. Five of the other teams invited are from Italy, while American Professional Continental Team Type 1 got an invite as did Geox-TMC.

Team Sky were surprised by their omission as Thomas Lövkvist won in 2009 and was second last year. Astana has also been left off the start list after Maxim Iglinskiy won last year.

Other teams missing out include Katusha, Quick Step, Rabobank and Saxo Bank.

The 190km race is ranked 1.1 on the European Tour, but in it’s five-year history has became an instant classic and is ridden by the worlds best teams. It takes place on March fifth.