The money crunch that has caused the canceling of a number of races over the past several years - especially in Spain - continues to whittle away at the sport's calendar. This morning, RCS Sport - organizers of the Giro d'Italia and Tirreno-Adriatico among other races - announced that the one-day Roma Maxima will not take place in 2015. The culprit is "organizational problems," which is usually code for "we don't have enough money."
The race has a long history as the Giro del Lazio, which ran 1933-2009. In 2013 RCS revitalized the race and the two editions since have been good ones pitting a late escape against a chasing pack as they both roar back into Rome. In 2013 Blel Kadri ditched an earlier break over the final climb and came in 37 seconds ahead of a large pack. Filippo Pozzato led home the chasers for second and celebrated, unaware that Kadri held off the chase. Last year, Alejandro Valverde similarly soloed away over the climb to the Campi di Annibale, this time leaving the peloton behind rather than his early break mates, and held on by a handful of seconds.
But, in a more positive note, RCS Sport announced wildcard selections for Strade Bianche, the one-day classic that traverses the white gravel roads of Tuscany before a final steep climb into the central plaza of Sienna. Though the race has only been on the calendar for eight years, it became an instant classic, especially after moving from the end of the season to an early March slot before the cobbled classics. Because it is a rung below a World Tour event, not every World Tour team is invited and only 18 teams total compete in the race. The World Tour teams invited are AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, BMC, Etixx - Quick Step, Lampre - Merida, Movistar, Orica-GreenEDGE, Cannondale-Garmin, Katyusha, Lotto NL - Jumbo, Sky, and Tinkoff - Saxo. Professional Continental teams invited include Andiron - Giacattoli, Bardiani CSF, Nippo - Vini Fantini, Rusvelo, Southeast Pro Cycling, and Team Novo Nordisk.
A quick glance at the prospective start list shows a large number of Italian teams and riders, but also many of the teams targeting the spring classics that follow.
A notable absentee is the Trek Factory Racing team of 2012 winner Fabian Cancellara (now, RCS has extended an invitation to Trek, making the total number of teams invited 19), but prior winners Michal Kwiatkowski, Moreno Moser, and Philippe Gilbert are likely to return on their way to the cobbled classics or Ardennes races that follow them. So too will Peter Sagan, who came in second last year and seems destined to win the race before he retires.