Three French teams and one German squad are selected as wildcards — the same invites as last year's edition of the race.
Tour de France organizer ASO has selected the same four wildcard teams for this year’s race that it invited in 2015. ASO today confirmed three French teams — Cofidis, Direct Energie and Fortuneo – Vital Concept — will be joined by German outfit Bora – Argon 18. All four raced last year’s Tour, and will head to La Manche for July 2 to start the 2016 edition.
“It’s a selection without any surprises,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme told AFP.
The fact that there were no surprises was the surprise. With ASO wielding its power of late, some unexpected selections to be of the unexpected variety. The Tour de France organizer instead kept to the script.
It also reveals just how few Pro Continental teams are equipped to race the Tour. French teams always get the preferred nod, and perhaps teams like Caja Rural, Stölting Service Group, or Rompoot-Oranje could make the argument they deserve to race, but there were no major snubs in the selection. The four wildcards will join 18 WorldTour teams to fill out the peloton for the 103rd edition in July.
Cofidis is focusing on winning a stage with sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, with Dani Navarro, ninth in 2013, leading the squad’s GC aspirations. Direct Energie (formerly Europcar) will bring promising sprinter Bryan Coquard and eternal stage-hunter Thomas Voeckler to what could be Voeckler’s final Tour, along with popular French veteran Sylvain Chavanel.
Fortuneo (formerly Bretagne – Séché Environnement) is also on the hunt for a stage win, with Chris Anker Sörensen (formerly of Tinkoff), the Feillu brothers, and promising Argentine climber Eduardo Sepulveda on its roster. Bora will also be on the attack with Dominik Nerz, Bartosz Huzarski, Jan Barta, and sprinter Sam Bennet.
The Tour starts July 2 in the La Manche region of northern France, and concludes on the Champs-Elysées in Paris July 24.
Teams for the 2016 Tour de France
Ag2r La Mondiale (F)
BMC Racing (US)
Dimension Data (SA)
Etixx – Quick-Step (B)
IAM Cycling (Swi)
Lampre – Merida (I)
Lotto – Soudal (B)
Orica – GreenEdge (Aus)
Giant – Alpecin (G)
LottoNL – Jumbo (Nl)
Trek – Segafredo (US)
Bora – Argon 18 (G)
Direct Energie (F)
Fortuneo – Vital Concept (F)