RCS has announced the wildcards for the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
The Giro d'Italia announced its wildcard entries to the 2013 race, with the exciting Colombia Coldeportes squad joining renamed/revamped Giro regulars Bardiani Valvole CSF-Inox and Vini Fantini-Selle Italia. Giants Katusha, home to last year's near-winner Joaquim Rodriguez, headed the list of rejects.
With a big number of teams openly vying for spots the selection looked more uncertain than ever. Not only Italian Pro Conti teams were hoping for a spot this year but also a number of teams from abroad as the Giro is becoming more and more of an international concern. So the three winners were hardly a slam-dunk for acceptance.
Originally there were eleven applicants for the three wildcards: Katusha, IAM Cycling, Colombia-Coldeportes, Vini Fantini, MTN-Quebeka, Caja Rural, NetApp-Endura, Bardiani-CSF,Landbouwcredit-Crelan, Europcar, Sojasun & NovoNordisk. MTN-Quebeka has since withdrawn it's application saying they are not yet Grand Tour ready. Presumably they struck some kind of deal with RCS to get spots for the other RCS events Tirreno and Milano Sanremo instead, which makes sense both for the team and RCS at this point. So that left ten teams for the spots and after Katusha's elimination from the World Tour they were probably hard to overlook for one of the spots given the caliber of their roster, but without Joaquim Rodriguez who is said to focus on the TdF (and rumored to be on the move away from the team) excluding them was probably fairly un-controversial.
Italian cycling is in some dire straights at the moments with smaller races going under from lack of local government support. Even RCS is struggling to keep some of their events running so there was always a lot of pressure to include the Italian teams and support the sport nationally, and the Giro is as much about the legacy of Italian cycling as anything else. This conflicts a little with the ambitions of the Giro to become a truly international event but with this selection the RCS struck a bit of a balance I think. The return of the Colombian climbers in the peloton has been a welcome sight and the exploits of Uran and Henao at the Giro last year probably didn't hurt their cause even if they were riding for Sky. The team is "half-italian" as well with a base in Italy and an all-italian staff led by Claudio Corti.
In Vini Fantini and Bardiani they get the classic domestic teams. With Fantini they get strong stagehunters like Gatto and Santambrogio plus they get to make up for last years snub of Stefano Garzelli, allowing him a final shot at glory in the Giro. The Bardiani-CSF team led by the Reverberis were also a likely choice given their history of performing well in the Giro and in Sascha Modolo they get one of the rising italian sprinters, even if he had a lackluster 2012.
Left in the cold are noticably NetApp-Endura who were invited last year and rode bravely but fairly anonymously so perhaps that's not a huge surprise. Also disappointed are the new Swiss IAM team who have some quality riders but are still an unknown entity. This was perhaps not the best year to be a first-time applicant? In any case they got the invites to the other RCS races so they did not leave emptyhanded. Less disappointed are probably the french teams who would always have the Giro as a second priority anyway.