ASO has announced that the teams selected to ride the 2008 Tour de France will be announced this week.
So, who?s going to be in, and who?s going to be out? Will it be 20, 21 or 22 nine-man teams?
It?s pretty safe to assume there will be six French squads and that Astana will be absent. Skil-Shimano have staked a strong claim after an excellent Paris-Nice, but are there any other shocks on the cards?
Even with Astana out, there are 21 strong cases for inclusion ? but has ASO got another trick up its sleeve? If so, it?s going to come a long way out of left-field.
Six French squads can surely count on their places
1 AG2R-La Mondiale
3 Bouygues Telecom
5 Crédit Agricole
6 Française des Jeux
It?s hard to imagine ASO leaving out any of these powerful squads
7 Caisse d?Epargne
11 Quick Step
If any of the top teams look vulnerable it?s these three. Liquigas and Lampre because there may be question marks over the strength of their Tour line-ups. Milram because they are a one-trick pony (Petacchi) and Saunier Duval because of Iban Mayo?s positive last year and general ineffective performances in the Tour. High Road?s place is not assured and they?ve already had one scare with the Giro d?Italia, which could make them vulnerable. However, it?s unlikely any of these teams will be snubbed.
14 High Road
18 Saunier Duval
LIKELY WILD CARDS
All three have strong cases for inclusion. Slipstream were almost guaranteed before Paris-Nice and even a poor show there won?t dent their chances. Skil have made a major bid for inclusion with a fine week. Barloworld were excellent last year, winning two stages and the king of the mountains with Juan Mauricio Soler and Robert Hunter.
OUT IN THE COLD