One of the big motivations for talking with NetApp DS Ralph Denk is the Giro d'Italia's wildcard selection. Thought it might be nice to say more precisely what that is...
The Giro organizers are meeting tomorrow to make their wildcard decisions. Presumably word will get out almost immediately, though don't be surprised if we go another day or two before finding out.
They have four wildcards to issue for the Giro. But the RCS folks will make decisions about their other major races as well. There are only two available for Tirreno-Adriatico (which makes sense since so many teams are at Paris-Nice that week instead) as well as seven each for Milano-Sanremo and the Giro di Lombardia.
Fourteen teams applied for wildcards with RCS:
- Androni Giocattoli (Italy)
- Acqua & Sapone (Italy)
- Champion System (China)
- Colnago-CSF Inox (Ireland)
- Colombia-Coldeportes (take a guess)
- Farnese Vini (UK)
- Landbouwkrediet (Belgium)
- Project 1T4I (Netherlands)
- RusVelo (Russia)
- Saur Sojasun (France)
- Europcar (France)
- Team NetApp (Germany)
- Team Type 1 (USA)
- Utensilnord (Algeria)
Last year wildcards went to the two actual Italian teams and the two Italian teams registered overseas for reasons I can't understand. The Giro also got special dispensation for adding a 23rd team, Geox. Assuming just four wildcards this year (pending another special dispensation), let's handicap the selections... on the flip!
- Androni Giocattoli: Team of Sella and Rujano, plus Fabio Felline, a 21-year-old who finished Il Lombardia next to Cunego, Samu Sanchez and some others (he was 22nd). I'd make them a lock for a wildcard.
- Acqua & Sapone: Garzelli and DiLuca, two former Giro winners. Can the new RCS regime break the habit of including guys whom nobody outside Italy would prefer to have around, just because they're former winners? Maybe... In fact, the A&S selection decision might tell us a good bit about these new folks.
- Champion System: Kind of a mishmash of nationalities racing under a Chinese license. And that's got some cache, but I don't see anyone on the roster who the Italian public would care about. Craig Lewis? Jan Kirsipuu? Unless this application comes with a threat to withhold all equipment made in China, I don't see it passing.
- Colnago-CSF Inox: Team is 100% Italian, with lots of young guys coming up and Pozzovivo, Modolo and some others. These guys always get in, so I can't imagine why 2012 will be different.
- Colombia-Coldeportes: Brand new team, all Colombians. Fabio Duarte gives them a recognizable face, and a South American project would be cool to see in action, but my guess is the Giro let them pull things together for a year or so, then bring them in.
- Farnese Vini: Tough one... Adding Pippo Pozzato guarantees them invites to all the other RCS races, but I would not assume it helps with the Giro. The rest of this case comes down to guys like Oscar Gatto, stagewinner last year, and some other usual suspects. Personally I hope RCS has the guts to say no to this team, they don't really deserve it.
- Landbouwkrediet: What? Is there a cyclocross stage? No. Not a chance. Even if they weren't closing their road program after the season.
- Project 1T4I: The former Skil-Shimano squad. They have a very intriguing duo of stage hunters, Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb, and I am anxious to see what kind of season Ramon Sinkeldam puts up. But as few as none of them would actually wind up racing at the Giro, so I think this is a no.
- RusVelo: Russian project, all Russian riders, almost none of whom I know anything about. Can't see why the Giro would be tempted.
- Saur Sojasun: Middlin' French team. French riders -- particularly those with a hope of a Tour de France wildcard -- do not EVER do anything in Italy if they can help it. No chance.
- Europcar: Same basic team as Saur, so no. Except they have Voeckler, so maybe? Except he REALLY wants to save himself for the Tour. So no.
- Team NetApp: See article below. On the cusp.
- Team Type 1: Hm... they applied last year and didn't get in. Does that help garner sympathy for them this time around? I doubt it, new management and all, but maybe. Not sure if their lineup includes anyone whom RCS would be targeting. On the cusp.
- Utensilnord: How does a team of Italians riding under an Algerian license get named after Scandianvian dinnerware? I don't know, and I suspect we won't find out in May.