Gazprom-RusVelo, the big surprise in Giro d’Italia wildcards selection

Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport has announced the four wildcard invitations for this year’s race, with Bardiani-CSF, Southeast-Venezuela, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Gazprom-Rusvelo all getting the golden ticket for the corsa rosa, but there is no place for Androni Giocattoli team. The 18 WorldTour teams are automatically invited, meaning a total of 22 teams and 198 riders will ride the 2016 Giro d’Italia.

The absence of Androni from the Giro d’Italia means that it will be the first time that Gianni Savio’s team has missed out on an invitation since 2007, while the inclusion of Gazprom-Rusvelo marks a major surprise.

While at least one non-Italian wildcard invitation had been anticipated, Dutch outfit Team Roompot had seemed the most likely given that the race will start in the Netherlands this year. The 2016 Giro gets underway in Apeldoorn on May 6 and finishes in Turin on May 29.

Southeast earned its selection by right after winning the Coppa Italia teams classification in 2015, and it appears that the presence of Damiano Cunego at Nippo-Vini Fantini and Bardiani-CSF’s strong showing and young Italian roster were enough to secure their invitations. Although Androni Giocattoli has the consolation of wildcard invitations to Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico, the team has been overlooked for its most important race of the season.

“In this year’s selections, in particular those for the Giro d’Italia, we wanted to give space to our national movement, but that doesn’t need to be the only factor that we are obliged to consider,” Giro race director Mauro Vegni said of the decision to invite Gazprom-Rusvelo. “The international development of all our races remains one of the cornerstones of our strategy and guided us in the final choice of the wild cards.”

Giro d’Italia wildcards: Bardiani-CSF, Southeast, Nippo-Vini Fantini, Gazprom-Rusvelo

Milan-San Remo wildcards: Bardiani-CSF, Southeast, Androni Giocattoli, Cofidis, Bora-Argon 18, Team Novo Nordisk.

Tirreno-Adriatico wildcards: Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, Bora-Argon 18, Caja Rural-RGA Seguros, CCC Sprandi Polkowice