Giro d'Italia to announce wild cards early

Lake Como, Giro d'Italia 2011, stage 18

Giro d'Italia director, Michele Acquarone said that the wild card teams for the 2012 race will be announced earlier than normal. He wrote in his blog today that he and his staff will reveal on January 10 the four Professional Continental teams that will compete with the 18 WorldTour teams.

"Traditionally, attempts were made to postpone the selection in order to take indicators from the first races of the season," Acquarone wrote. "We forgo this privilege to give everyone the possibility to plan and prepare as best as possible for the season; both the teams that are going to participate and in our races in 2012 and, with regret, those that won't."

Race organiser RCS Sport announced the teams for this year's race on March 7, two months before the race began. Teams Geox, Acqua & Sapone, Androni, Colnago and Farnese Vini raced with the 18 WorldTour teams.

The selection is never without its controversy as several second division, Professional Continental teams want to participate in the Giro. Team Garmin with David Millar used it to prove it deserved its place in the 2008 Tour de France, when it was still a second division team.

Foreign teams combine with Italian second division teams, which are desperate to earn their local sponsors TV airtime, to create a difficult choice for Acquarone. In his blog he outlined the criteria, the process and some of the teams that may have a chance. A newly created "wild card commission" must receive the teams' applications by the end of the year.

"In the first days of January, our Wild Card Commission will have the possibility to examine all of the dossiers. The decision to set up the commission stems from the desire to give the greatest possible balance by giving a voice to the various components of our structure," Acquarone wrote.

"We've requested that the dossier presented contains certain elements that are fundamental for us: 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."

The commission consists of five members: Giacomo Catano, CEO of RCS Sport; Mauro Vegni, operations director; Marco Gobbi Pansana, Marking manager; Pier Bergonzi, chief editor of La Gazzetta dello Sport and Acquarone. They have 22 second division teams to select from.

The 2012 Giro, May 5 to 27, will be Acquarone's first. RCS Sport replaced Angelo Zomegnan with Acquarone, who became only the fifth director in 100 years. He announced next year's route in October. It starts in Denmark, features seven likely sprint stages and six summit finishes, and concludes in Milan.

In addition to the 22 Giro teams, on January 10 the commission will announce the wild card teams for its other races. The Tirreno-Adriatico stage race will feature two wild card teams, and one-day races, Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Lombardy seven each. It will also announce the 14 teams for its non-World Tour race, Strade Bianche.

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