|Last year's course|
The RCS Sport announced the wild card invitations to the giro and other major races earlier today. They opened up the process for these invitations by naming the 14 teams still in the competition just as the new year settled in. That meant that eight teams did not try to apply as there are 22 pro conti teams. The wild cards comes of course in addition to the 18 pro tour teams who automatically are granted a ticket to start the race.
The RCS Sport also emphasised the requirements the teams were to be measured by, The general director of the RCS, Michele Acquarone even informed more about the process on a blog on cyclingnews.
The people who made the choices, forming the RCS wildcard cycling commision, consisted of Giacoma Catano (CEO of RCS Sport), Michele Acquarone (RCS general director and at the giro helm), Mauro Vegni (RCS cycling technical manager), Marco Gobbi Pasana (marketing and communication manager) and Pier Bergonzi (Gazzetto dello Sport). These lucky or unlucky, if you prefer, were the ones responsible for choosing the lucky four wild cards winners.
As you all know by now, Androni Giocattoli, Colnago-CSF, Farnese Vini-Selle and NetApp got the upper hand.
What does this mean?
First of all, I appreciate the initiative from the RCS to be as open as they have been regarding the process. To me, I was surprised the presence of Italian teams was so high (3 out of 4), at least since Acquarone earlier talked about the globalisation in cycling. That said, I don't know how the voting was inside the commision, and since the giro is an Italian race, no one should really be very surprised.
What I truly liked is that the RCS had the courage to shut out Acqua Sapone, where Garzelli and Di Luca is a major force. Not that I have anything against that particular team or the named riders, but it shows that the RCS values other things very heavily too, not only former palmares. Every team that wants to race the giro need to step up their game according to the requirements given and not rely 100% on previous results.
Personally I would have loved to watch Marcel Kittel go head to head with Andrea Guardini, but I can be more than satisfied by watching Sacha Modolo of team Colnago-CSF do the same. These two Italian youngsters are a pair to follow closely for the future.
The boldest choice today was no doubt NettApp, the German team. Cycling in Germany has struggled earlier with the TV broadcasters pulling their plug on the tour, allegedly for for the role doping has had in cycling.
Another thing to remember is the one Marco Gobbi Pasana tweeted me earlier this evening, that there are more races to consider. This is an important fact. The RCS gave out wild cards to several races like the Milan-Sanremo, Tirreno-Adriatico and Il Lombardia. If you consider the cards given with a broader scope, they are balanced, in my opinion.