The Giro d’Italia, the first Grand Tour of the year, begins on Saturday, and this week Canadian Cycling Magazine revs up its preview machine before the big launch.
Along with 18 WorldTour squads, four Pro Continental wild card invitees line up in Bologna on May 11. As in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, most of these teams are from the host country.
What Do Wild Card Teams Bring to the Table?
You can count on wild card teams getting riders into every breakaway as they endeavour to justify their invitations and fly the team flags. Although no wild card riders have won Giro stages over the last two editions, usually the wild card teams earn one or two stages each year. In 2016, both Giulio Ciccone of Bardiani-CSF and Alexander Foliforov of RusVelo took stages. From 2009 to 2013, wild card riders bagged four of the five mountains classification jerseys. The last time a wild card entrant finished in the top-20 was 2014 when Androni Giocattoli’s Franco Pellizotti claimed 12th place.
Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 2019 wins: 12. One of three wild card teams that was also in last year’s Giro, AGS has more sponsor logos on its jersey that any other team. More importantly, this squad brings a rider who might be in the GC race, Fausto Masnada. The 25-year-old Italian spent April riding to second place in the Giro di Sicilia, fifth in the Tour of the Alps while winning two stages and second in the one-day Giro dell’Appennino. He was the top wild card rider in last year’s edition of the Giro, placing 26th. Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec’s general manager is the savvy Gianni Savio.
Eccola… é arrivata la maglia 2019 di Androni Giocattoli Sidermec. Fiammante, come sempre! Speriamo vi piaccia. pic.twitter.com/eCGR4GLB9W
— Androni Sidermec (@AndroniGiocatto) January 3, 2019
Bardiani-CSF 2019 wins: 1. This all-Italian team has been getting the wild card call for eight consecutive years due to consistent stage wins. Beside Ciccone’s win in 2016, the team had stage victories in 2015 from Nicola Boem and in 2014 from Stefano Pirazzi, Marco Canola and Enrico Battaglin.
Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizanè 2019 wins: 2. NVFF is the only wildcard squad that didn’t get selected last year as well. The outfit is a unique blend of mostly Italian and Japanese athletes, with a couple of Spaniards and Colombians. Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizanè was 2004 champion Damiano Cunego’s last team.
Israel Cycling Academy 2019 wins: 7. The only non-Italian team in the quartet, ICA was notably invited last year when the race began in Israel. Canadian Guillaume Boivin was active in the first week’s breakaways. Boivin is one of three Canadians on the team. Davide Cimolai and Boivin finished one-two in the recent Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. Boivin looks to be Canada’s sole entrant in this year’s race.