Giro d’Italia 2015 wildcards announced: CCC in, Colombia out

Polish team CCC Sprandi are handed a wildcard entry to the 2015 Giro d'Italia, along with Androni Giocatoli, Bardiani-CSF, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Southeast

Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport left team Colombia off its 2015 wildcard invitation list and asked Poland’s CCC Sprandi to race with four Italian teams and the 17 WorldTour teams including Sky.

CCC Sprandi will line up on May 9 for the three-week Grand Tour with second division teams Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Southeast.

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“As per every previous year, we reflected deeply on the wildcard choices; an increasingly meticulous process thanks to the quality of the teams that want to participate in our races,” said Mauro Vegni, RCS Sport Head of Cycling.

“This year’s choices, especially for the wildcards of the Giro d’Italia, were dictated by the opportunity to support the Italian cycling movement, giving continuity to an overall process without ever losing sight of the goal of international development in strategic territories.”

Colombia raced in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, it placed second in the Panarotta and the Montecapione summit finish stages with Fabio Duarte. It had been expected to get one of the five invitations.

CCC will race again for a second time after participating 12 years ago in 2003. The team in orange boasts mostly Polish cyclist and a handful of foreigners including Davide Rebellin. The 43-year-old Italian won all three Ardennes Classics in 2004 and placed second in the 2008 Olympics, where an anti-doping test later showed he used EPO. He served a doping ban and began racing again in 2011.

The team also includes German Stefan Schumacher, who won both time trial stages at the 2008 Tour de France before failing an anti-doping test for EPO.

CCC also received invitations to RCS Sport’s Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia one-day races.

“Invitation to those races is by far the biggest highlight in the team’s history, since I’ve become the director sportif,” said said Piotr Wadecki.

“It has been a long process and we are very proud that RCS Sport has put trust in us. What’s special about the invitation to the Giro is the fact that we are the only non-Italian team to receive a wildcard.”

“In the off season we made some changes and strengthened the team. We brought in few international riders with impressive cycling resumes. We also signed Sylvester Szmyd, who has finished Giro d’Italia 11 times and knows everything about the race. All those moves and the results which we accomplished in the previous years, were recognised by the RCS Sport.”

RCS Sport also named the second division wildcard teams to race Tirreno-Adriatico, March 11 to 17, Milan-San Remo, March 22, and Il Lombardia.

Tirreno-Adriatico: Bardiani-CSF, Bora-Argon 18, Colombia, MTN-Qhubeka and Europcar

Milan-San Remo: Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, Bora-Argon 18, CCC Sprandi, Cofidis, Colombia, MTN-Qhubeka and Novo Nordisk.

Il Lombardia: Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, Bora-Argon 18, CCC Sprandi, Colombia, Nippo-Vini Fantini, Southeast and United Healthcare.

All 17 first division teams have guaranteed invitations to the WorldTour races. The WorldTour series kicks off tomorrow in Australia with the Tour Down Under and includes 27 events.

Nippo-Vini Fantini signed 2004 Giro winner Damiano Cunego and stepped up to the second division from the third division this winter. It will race the Giro d’Italia for the first time.

Androni, Bardiani and Southeast have all competed in and won stages the Giro in past years.