The organizer of next month’s three major spring classics named the 25 teams invited to participate in Paris-Roubaix, Fleche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Paris-Roubaix on Tuesday.
As expected, the Astana team of defending Tour de France champion Alberto Contador was not included on the list issued by the Amaury Sport Organisation, the private firm that also organizes the Tour.
Included in the list were two U.S.-based teams, the ProTour High Road team and the continental Slipstream-Chipotle squad. High Road is expected to be led by American George Hincapie, while Slipstream features 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Bäckstedt.
The choices announced by ASO pointedly excluded not only the Astana team, which the company says remains sullied by doping scandals despite its reorganization, but also the Mitsubishi squad of controversial riders Alan Davis and Frank Vandenbroucke. Davis has been mentioned in connection with the Operación Puerto case and Vandenbroucke has been embroiled in a seemingly endless series of doping and personal troubles since winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 1999.
The 25 teams invited to Paris-Roubaix (April 13), Fleche Wallonne (April 23) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 27) include:
Germany: Gerolsteiner, Milram
Belgium: Landbouwkrediet, Quick Step, Silence, Topsport
Spain: Caisse d’Epargne, Euskaltel, Saunier Duval
U.S.: High Road, Slipstream
France: AG2R, Agritubel, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Française des Jeux
Great Britain: Barloworld
Italy: Lampre, Liquigas, Tinkoff
Netherlands: Rabobank, Skil