Race hots up for Giro d'Italia wildcards, with Italian teams in pole position

Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela and Bardiani-CSF look set to be granted Giro d'Italia wildcards next week, with Team Colombia also tipped to receive and invitation

Enrico Battaglin wins stage fourteen of the 2014 Giro d'Italia

(Image credit: watson)

Pro Continental teams will know their May plans next week, with organiser RCS Sport set to name the wildcard teams for its 2015 Giro d'Italia.

The 17 WorldTour teams, like Team Sky, already have secure tickets to race, but second division teams must fight for the five remaining invitations if they want to be on the start line on May 9.

"Wednesday, at the latest Thursday, we will announce the teams," race director, Mauro Vegni told Tutto Bici website. "This year, again, we are going to keep our eye on Italian cycling."

Italy fields one team, Lampre-Merida, in the first division, whose 17 first division teams receive automatic invitations to the 27 WorldTour events, including the big classics and the Tour de France, and must participate.

The 20 Pro Continental teams, however, must ask, hope and wait for their chance to race in the WorldTour events by way of wildcard invitations.

RCS Sport, in addition to the Giro, will announce the teams taking part in its races Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia (all WorldTour races).

Of the 20 second division teams, Italy counts four: Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela, Bardiani-CSF, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Southeast-YellowFluo. All four teams have asked to race the 2015 Giro d'Italia.

Androni and Bardiani should receive two of the five invitations with long and successful runs in the Giro. Bardiani features Sonny Colbrelli and Enrico Battaglin, Italians who Vegni should be happy to include in his race. Battaglin won one stage in 2013 and one in 2014.

Team Colombia ought to receive the third open space to race with a team that is made for the Giro's high passes. Though it has competed in the last two editions without a stage win, it was part of a Colombian uprising last year that saw Nairo Quintana (Movistar) take his country's first Giro title ahead of compatriot Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-Quick-Step).

South Africa's MTN-Qhubeka and Germany's Bora-Argon 18 both are focused on receiving a Tour de France wildcard invitation and have not asked to race in the 2015 Giro d'Italia.

The other two spots could go to a number of teams including France's Europcar, Spain's Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Belgium's Wanty-Groupe Gobert or United Healthcare from the USA.

The invitations could easily fall in the hands of Italy’s Nippo and Southeast even with their questionable track records.

Nippo welcomed 2004 Giro winner, Damiano Cunego and Vincenzo Nibali's younger brother, Antonio. However, the 2015 season will be its first in the second division after making the jump from the third.

Southeast signed Alessandro Petacchi, who counts 22 Giro stage wins, this week, but has a dirty past. In 2013, Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio both failed anti-doping tests for EPO at the Giro d'Italia, and in 2014 Matteo Rabottini tested positive for the same drug in an out-of-competition test.

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