By Gregor Brown
The Giro d'Italia organiser announced today the wild card teams that will compete in its race this year. The four second division teams - Androni Giocattoli, Colnago, Farnese Vini and NetApp - will race alongside the 18 first division, WorldTour teams from May 5 to 27.
"The meeting just concluded," read a press release, "where the committee decided the teams for 2012 WorldTour races organised by RCS Sport."
A newly-created Wild Card Committee made the decision. The Giro's new director, Michele Acquarone created it and sat in with four others: Giacomo Catano, CEO of RCS Sport; Mauro Vegni, operations director; Marco Gobbi Pansana, Marking manager; and Pier Bergonzi, chief editor of La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Acquarone said last month that he wanted to announce the wild card teams earlier than normal. Last year, former director Angelo Zomegnan announced them on March 7.
They are "announced earlier than in the past," Acquarone wrote in his blog, when "attempts were made to postpone the selection in order to take indicators from the first races of the season." The earlier announcement gives "everyone the possibility to plan and prepare as best as possible for the season."
The committee selected the four wild card teams from a list of 22 second division teams. On January 1, the organiser announced it reduced the list to 14 teams since the other eight teams "did not send in a request or documentation." Historical French team, Cofidis was one of the eight teams.
Today, the committee also announced the wild card teams for its other races, again selecting from the 14 candidates. In addition to the 18 first division, WorldTour teams, it invited four wild card teams to the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, and seven each to one-day races Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Lombardy. The committee "evaluated" and "by consensus" upped the number of wild card teams from two to four for Tirreno-Adriatico.
Sky will compete in all races as it is a WorldTour team. Mark Cavendish won two stages of the Giro last year when he raced for former team, HTC-Highroad.
The races and wild card teams:
Tirreno-Adriatico, March 7 to 13: Acqua & Sapone, Colnago, Colombia-Coldeportes and Farnese Vini (8 riders each)
Milan-Sanremo, March 17: Acqua & Sapone, Colnago, Colombia-Coldeportes, Farnese Vini, Project 1t4i, Team Type 1-Sanofi and Utensilnord-Named (8 riders each)
Giro d'Italia, May 5 to 27: Androni Giocattoli, Colnago, Farnese Vini and NetApp (9 riders each)
Tour of Lombardy, September 29: Acqua & Sapone, Androni Giocattoli, Colnago, Colombia-Coldeportes, Farnese Vini, Project 1t4i and Utensilnord-Named (8 riders each)
The committee should also announce today the 14 teams for its non-World Tour race, Strade Bianche.
Acquarone said he created the committee of "various components" of RCS Sport to give the "greatest possible balance" in the selections. In the candidates dossiers it examined "certain fundamental elements: ethics and sporting quality of the team; marketing activities already in place and any ad hoc activities that will be dedicated to our events, media coverage planned."
In addition to an early wild card announcement, the Giro and many other races start earlier this year due to the Olympics. Only in 1939 did the Giro start earlier in the calendar, on April 29.
2012 Giro d'Italia team list
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
Androni Giocattoli (Italy)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Colnago-CSF Inox (Ireland)
Farnese Vini (Great Britain)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium)
Saxo Bank (Denmark)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
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