By Jonny Long
Total Direct Energie have confirmed they will not take their place at the 2020 Giro d'Italia after race organisers asked the French squad to decline their invite to make room for more Italian teams.
The team had won the right to participate in all 2020 WorldTour events after coming top of the Professional Continental rankings in 2019, a new rule that has been introduced by the UCI.
However, with Cofidis also swelling the WorldTour ranks to 19, this gives the Giro only two wildcard spots, thereby forcing one of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec ,Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè or Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM to miss out on their home Grand Tour.
Giro race director Mauro Vegni therefore reached out to Total Direct Energie team boss Jean-René Bernaudeau to ask him to decline his invite to the Italian Grand Tour, with the Frenchman obliging.
"To put an end to all speculation around the 2020 calendar, we officially announce our non-participation in the Giro this year," read the official statement released by Total Direct Energie.
"Thanks to the work accomplished and the efforts made, our team finished at the top of the Continental Pro rankings at the end of the 2019 season.
"This coveted first place is not inconsequential! In 2020, the team will have access to all the events of the UCI WorldTour calendar and tough decisions will be essential."
Total Direct Energie added that their relatively small roster, boasting only 24 riders, means they are forced to make choices on which races they will include in their calendar.
"With a squad of 24 riders, Team Total Direct Energie cannot compete in all the major races of the season. It is therefore imperative to make choices to best establish the schedule according to the objectives defined."
The decision was also influenced by the French squad's desire to be able to compete in the spring Classics and the Tour de France, with the Giro d'Italia proving the least important of these three potential focuses.
"We would put ourselves in danger sportingly if we went there. The squad is not enough to be able to claim to be successful on Milan-San Remo, the Flanders races, the Giro and the Tour de France."
Alongside Lilian Calmejane, who won a stage of the Tour de France in 2017, Niki Terpstra will hope to provide his French team with victories in 2020, after a 2019 season hampered by injuries.
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