By Nigel Wynn
Team Sky has been invited to the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, having secured one of the Spanish Grand Tour's wildcard places - but RadioShack has not been handed a place.
The British-based Sky squad was one of six teams handed a wildcard place at the Vuelta (August 28-September 19), joining Cervelo, Garmin-Transitions, Andalucia-Cajasur, Xacobeo Galicia and Katusha. Sixteen teams had already been assured of a place according to an agreement made two years ago between the Vuelta organisers and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), bringing the total to 22 squads.
"It's very, very pleasing to know that we'll be taking part in the Vuelta this year - it's great news for the team," said Sky team principal David Brailsford.
"It's terrific to be able to race in the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España in our debut season and that has always been a big aim for us.
"It's been one of the hardest Vueltas to get into for a number of years and we never took anything for granted. The process started a little while ago and this news today is a real vote of confidence in the team and everything we are trying to do with it.
"We'll have a really strong squad and the riders are all ready for it - we're delighted to be given the opportunity to fly the Team Sky flag in such a significant event."
No Vuelta for RadioShack
One name conspicuously missing from the 2010 Vuelta start list was RadioShack, the US-based squad created by seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and his long-term manager Johan Bruyneel, who was furious at the decision to leave out the squad.
It's the second Grand Tour of the season that RadioShack has missed - they were not invited to the Giro d'Italia in May having expressed no interest in contesting the race.
"I am not only surprised, I am speechless," said RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel via a press statement on Tuesday.
"At first I thought it was a mistake so I called organizer Javier Guillen for some explanation. He told me that the other teams offered him better options on a sporting level.
"I had to ask him to repeat it as I could not believe this but I heard right: we didn't offer a good enough team. I cannot accept or understand this decision. With Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Kloden, Chris Horner and Jani Brajkovic we had four potential Vuelta winners on the roster we sent to Unipublic.
"Our 2010 Team goals were the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain. That's why - together with the need to perform well in the Tour of California - we skipped the Tour of Italy this year."
"In cycling there are three parties: UCI, organisers and teams/riders. Unlike in other professional sports, the teams and riders are the main actors who are never heard. I will fight for our rights and for other things that rightfully belong to us but we never get.
"There is an abuse of power. Some organisers take away the hunger of potential sponsors to invest in our sport. It is unjust that a new sponsor, coming into cycling with a lot of enthusiasm, is not rewarded for their financial input.
"For me it is hard to explain to my sponsor that 21 other teams are apparently better than us. Especially when it isn't true. These actions are unfair to our sponsors as well as a blow to our fans."
Both Team Sky and RadioShack are in their first year of competition.
Vuelta a Espana 2010: Team list
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