The Wild Cards have been announced for the Ghent Wevelgem, Vuelta al Pais Vasco and Classica San Sebastian. As expected, the race organisers have chosen virtually all home teams (with the exception of the battling Navigators) which further highlights the criticism that the ProTour is a closed shop, allowing the Pro Continental Teams little room to develop and grow.
One irony of the current European racing scene is that it would appear that more and more teams are wanting the chance to race and yet there are less and less races.
The ProTour has done little to encourage race organisers to start new races. Interestingly, the Revolution Track series in England has grown in stature and attendance. Organiser Fran Millar puts this down to the fact that they do not run under UCI regulations and can “do what we want to create interesting, profitable cycling racing”.
One wonders how long before Road Race Officials take notice of this success?
Ghent Wevelgem – Navigators in!
The race organisers of the Belgian Classic Ghent-Wevelgem have named the four wild card Pro Continental teams for the race. No surprise to see three Belgian teams in the Flemish hard man's race. Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Chocolade Jacques-T Interim and MrBookmaker.com-SportsTech will all ride and good news for the “other” USA team, Navigators, who fill the remaining slot.
Expect big celebrations across the pond as the battling Navigators wins its first invitation onto the Pro Tour circuit.
The race will be held on 6th April this year and last year was was dominated by Quick Step-Davitamon with “Torpedo Tom” Boonen taking the victory.
Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Classica San Sebastian – A Spanish Affair
The Race organisers of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and Classica San Sebastian have named their wildcards, and not surprisingly have chosen three Pro Continental Spanish teams. Comunidad Valenciana-Elche, Kaiku-Caja Rural and Relax-Fuenlabrada have been chosen to ride.
Gilberto Simoni Looking forward to Paris Nice
Gilberto Simoni is looking forward to riding the Paris Nice, and hopes to do well. «It is a beautiful race. Since it is also the start of the ProTour it also has an historical significance this year.»
This will be the second time Simoni has ridden the French stage race: in 2003 he was second behind Vinokurov on Stage 5 to the top of Mont faron and finished 11th overall.
«It will be interesting to see what happens to my form over a weeks racing. If I am going well, of course I would like to get a result. Ultimately I would be happy just to improve on my 2003 result».
The Lampre Caffita team will be Alessandro Ballan, Salvatore Commesso, Gerrit Glomser, David Loosli, Evgeni Petrov, Gilberto Simoni, Daniele Righi and Patxi Vila.
Simoni and Cunego together. Cunego has started his season well, Simoni will be looking forward the climbs in Paris Nice. Photo courtesy Lampre Caffita.