The wildcard invitations to Pro Continental teams for WorldTour races are beginning to roll in (although the Giro d’Italia’s are a little late), and on Tuesday Rally UHC Cycling discovered it had been invited to La Flèche Wallonne on April 23 and the Tour de Suisse starting in mid-June. Rally UHC is only in its second year as a Pro Continental squad.
— Rally UHC Cycling (@RallyUHCcycling) January 22, 2019
Speaking of the Belgian race invite, Rally UHC’s performance Director Jonas Carney said, “It was a big surprise. We did not expect to receive this but once it was confirmed, we were elated. We worked our tails off for 12 years to build this program and now we’ve received an invitation to one of the most prestigious races in the world.”
Seven of the outfit’s riders are Canadian, with Pier-André Coté and legendary hard man Svein Tuft joining Ryan Anderson, Rob Britton, Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam de Vos and Nigel Ellsay this season.
La Flèche Wallonne will start in Ans instead of Seraing this season and will feature three climbs of the Ereffe–Cherave–Mur de Huy combination. Last year Julian Alaphilippe beat Alejandro Valverde for the title, stopping the Spaniard’s win streak at four.
Along with the Critérium du Dauphiné, the nine-stage Tour de Suisse is one of the traditional form-tweaking races before the Tour de France. Last year Richie Porte took the big hourglass-like trophy without winning a stage.
Rally UHC has some early-season Spanish racing ahead, with a session in the Middle East as well: Challenge Mallorca (January 31–February 3), Volta Communitat Valenciana Ruta del Sol (February 6– 10), Vuelta Murcia (February 15–16), Classica Almeria (February 17), Tour of Oman (February 16–21) and Vuelta a Andalucia (February 20–24).