By Gregor Brown
Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport is asking Total Direct Energie to give up their spot in the 2020 edition so that it can have a more Italian flavour in the Grand Tour.
According to L'Equipe, cycling director Mauro Vegni reached out to the team boss Jean-René Bernaudeau in the last weeks to strike a deal. Italy's biggest cycling event starts May 9 with three stages in Hungary before it transfer to Sicily for the remaining three weeks.
Vegni would like to see more Italian teams in the 22-team roster, each with eight riders. The teams will include Ineos, with Egan Bernal saying that he would like to race after winning the Tour de France in 2019. Vincenzo Nibali plans to be there too with his new team Trek-Segafredo.
Vegni expressed his concerns to Bernaudeau, according to the article. The French general manager is reportedly considering another programme for his team.
The team has the right to participate in all the 2020 WorldTour events after finishing as the top Professional Continental team in 2019. The right is part of new rules created by the UCI cycling governing body.
Given Vegni must invite all 19 WorldTour teams, including newly promoted team Cofidis, he only has space for three wildcard invitations. Those invites, if Total Direct Energie did not participate, could go to Italian second division teams Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec ,Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè and Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM.
Vegni said at the 2020 route presentation in October: "Our country has given so much to cycling. I hope that Total Direct Energie, which will focus on the Tour de France, will refuse the invitation so that we can invite our Italian teams."
Bernaudeau could find the team a little stretched this summer given only 23 riders fill his 2020 roster and the Tour, as a French team, is its main aim.
The last time he sent a team to the Giro d'Italia was in 2014 when Pierre Rolland led the Europcar team to third in stage 16 and fourth overall behind Nairo Quintana.
"We are offered the opportunity to have a very, very rewarding programme for a team like ours, we are very happy about that," Bernaudeau said earlier. "Now, will we be able to do the programme we want? With the team we have, we still have to think about what is possible and what is not."
His stars for the 2020 season include Niki Terpstra, Rein Taaramäe and Julien Simon.
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