Tour de France organisers have announced the teams that will compete in the 2018 edition of the race, with French teams filling three of the four wildcard spots.
Taking their places alongside the 18 WorldTour teams, who are automatically given spots in all WorldTour races, will be the Cofidis, Direct Energie, Fortuneo-Samsic, and Wanty-Groupe Gobert professional continental-level teams, the same four wildcard teams that competed in the 2017 race.
As well as announcing the wildcard teams for the Tour de France, race organisers ASO also revealed which second division teams would take part in some of its other WorldTour stage races.
All four places at Paris-Nice will go to French teams, with Cofidis, Delko Marseille-Provence KTM, Direct Energie, and Fortuneo-Samsic securing a spot in the Race to the Sun, while Cofidis, Fortuneo-Samsic, the new Vital Concept team, and Wanty-Groupe Gobert have been invited to compete in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Watch: Tour de France 2018 route guide
Direct Energie rider Lilian Calmejane’s win into Station des Rousses was the only victory taken by a wildcard team in last year’s Tour, although Wanty-Groupe Gobert in particular captured the headlines with their plucky, frequent, but ultimately unsuccessful breakaway attempts.
The selection of Fortuneo-Samsic means that Warren Barguil, who took two stage wins and the polka dot jersey in last year’s edition, should return to the race in 2018 following his move from Team Sunweb.
Wildcard spots have typically been given to French professional continental teams, with the likes of Cofidis and Direct Energie (formerly Europcar) having been all-but guaranteed a place in the race in recent years.
The 2018 edition of the Tour de France will start on July 7 in Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, finishing three weeks later with the traditional sprinters’ finish on the Champs-Élysées.
ASO also organise a number of major one-day races, with the wildcard team line-ups for the likes of Paris-Roubaix, La Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège usually announced in February.