Three American teams will be among 19 squads fighting for the honors in the Criterium International in late March.
High Road, Slipstream-Chipotle and BMC all earned invitations to compete in the three-stage, two-day race held in the French Ardennes.
The race is dubbed the “mini Tour de France,” in part because it’s organized by the Tour owners, ASO, and because it features the three classic elements of a stage race, with a time trial, a climbing stage and a road course well-suited for sprinters.
The invitations further bolster hopes for High Road and Slipstream-Chipotle to secure a spot in July’s Tour.
The invitation is also a boon for BMC, an up-and-coming team looking to expand its European racing calendar with as many high-profile events as possible.
Twelve ProTour and six French teams are among the invitees.
Teams for Criterium International
USA: BMC, High Road, Slipstream-Chipotle
Denmark: Team CSC
Spain: Caisse d’Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Karpin-Galicia
France: Ag2r-La Mondiale, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Credit Agricole, FDJeux, Agritubel
Great Britain: Barloworld
Holland: Skil-Shimano, Rabobank
March 29, stage 1: Signy-le-Petit to Charleville-Méziéres, 193km
March 30, stage 2: Les Vieilles Forges to Monthermé, 98.5km
March 30, stage 3: Charleville-Méziéres, 8.3km (ITT)