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Acqua e Sapone, Farnese snag Tirreno-Adriatico invitations, UHC and TT1 do not

Acqua e Sapone and Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli snagged “wild card” spots to round the 20-squad lineup for Tirreno-Adriatico.

Acqua e Sapone and Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli snagged “wild card” spots to round the 20-squad lineup for Tirreno-Adriatico.

Acqua e Sapone will line up with defending champion Stefano Garzelli while Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli got the nod ahead of several other pro continental Italian squads such as Androni-Giocattoli or Colnago-CSF.

The U.S.-based UnitedHealthcare and Team Type 1 squads had also been vying for invitations, but were not among those teams named on Thursday. Geox-TMC — already snubbed earlier in the day by Tour de France officials in their invitations to Paris-Nice and the Tour — was also overlooked.

All 18 ProTeam squads were included, with only two invitations handed out for the 46th running of the “cosa dei due mari,” set for March 9-15.

Only 20 teams are starting this year, two less than in 2010, meaning that only two teams instead of four were being invited behind the 18 assured ProTeam spots. Race organizers were not available for comment Thursday.

The weeklong stage race is the preferred preparation for many of the favorites heading into the season’s first spring classic at Milan-San Remo, set for March 19.

Teams for the 2011 Tirreno-Adriatico (March 9-15)

• Acqua & Sapone (Ita)
• Ag2r La Mondiale (Fra)
• BMC Racing Team (USA)
• Euskaltel-Euskadi (Sp)
• Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli (GB)
• HTC-Highroad (USA)
• Katusha Team (Rus)
• Lampre-ISD (Ita)
• Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita)
• Movistar Team (Sp)
• Omega Pharma-Lotto (Bel)
• Pro Team Astana (Kaz)
• Quick Step Cycling Team (Bel)
• Rabobank Cycling Team (Ned)
• Saxo Bank Sungard (Den)
• Sky Procycling (Gbr)
• Team Garmin-Cervelo (USA)
• Team Leopard – Trek (Lux)
• Team Radioshack (USA)
• Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team (Ned)