Katusha misses out as Giro wild cards go to Team Colombia, Bardiani-CSF and Vini Fantini
Russian outfit secures places in Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo and Giro di Lombardia, but status remains unclear
Team Colombia, formerly Colombia Coldeportes, plus Italian outfits Bardiani-CSF and Vini Fantini, are celebrating having been awarded wild cards by organisers RCS Sport for May’s Giro d’Italia. The big news, however, is that Katusha, which is fighting the UCI Licence Commission’s decision last month to refuse it a UCI World Tour licence for 2013, has missed out. Also losing out is NetApp-Endura.
In a message posted on Twitter immediately after the announcement of the successful teams was made this lunchtime, Team Colombia said: “We have wanted it so hard, and now it is real: #COLOMBIA4GIRO!" together with a graphic knocked up in expectation – or perhaps more hope – that its application would be successful.
The news will come as a blow to Katusha, which had the runner-up in the general classification of last year’s race in the shape of Joaquim Rodriguez, as the Russian outfit continues to wait for a date to be set for its appeal against the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Rodriguez himself has already said he is targeting the Tour de France this year rather than the Giro and has been reported as having been offered a three-year contract by an unnamed WorldTour team, with BMC Racing having already denied that it is the outfit in question.
All 18 UCI WorldTour teams receive an automatic place in the Giro d’Italia and indeed all other UCI WorlTour Calendar races. Four wild card places were available for the Giro.
However, the first of those had already been claimed by Italian team Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela by virtue of its having topped the Coppa Italia-Campionato Italiano Squadre ranking last season.
As things stand, Katusha’s future, despite it having the richest backer in the sport in the shape of energy billionaire Igor Makarov, looks uncertain.
While the Court of Arbitration for Sport can order the UCI’s Licence Commission to award the Russian team a WorldTour licence, reportedly refused on ethical grounds, equally it could uphold that decision.
Until the matter is resolved one way or another – and time is pressing, with the new WorldTour season starting a week on Saturday with the Tour Down Under – Katusha is effectively in limbo. There's also the issue of whether, if its appeal is successful, RCS then makes an extra space available in the Giro.
Should it be unable to secure its WorldTour licence, it can apply for a second-tier UCI Professional Continental licence – but renewal of that had already been refused for Katusha’s feeder team, RusVelo.
It’s unlikely that the decision of RCS Sport not to award Katusha a wild card place in the Giro is due solely to concerns over that continuing legal process, since it has given it entry to Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo and, at the end of the season, the Giro di Lombardia.
The latter was won last year, of course, by Rodriguez as he overhauled Bradley Wiggins to finish 2012 top of the UCI WorldTour ranking.
Full confirmation of the teams that have been successful in securing entry to those races, as well as the Strade Bianche in early March, will follow.