Giro d’Italia organisers RCS Sport have announced the wildcard invites to this year’s edition of the race. Automatic invitees Israel-Premier Tech are set to be joined on the start line by Italian ProTeams VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè and Polti-Kometa plus Swiss squad Tudor Pro Cycling, who make their Grand Tour debut.
The set of invites was extended to three teams after Lotto-Dstny opted against taking up their automatic spot as one of the two top-ranked ProTeams of last season, as was the case last May.
However, with Israel-Premier Tech opting in this year, there was one less space available for wildcard teams, so Corratec-Vini Fantini have missed out on selection after making their race debut last season.
Instead, lining up along with the 18 WorldTour teams at the Grande Partenza in Venaria Reale are the two other Italian second-division teams. The long-running VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè squad are as good as an automatic invite, having only missed the 2009 race since the 1990s. For the relatively new Alberto Contador – and Ivan Basso – led Polti-Kometa, squad, however, this will be their fourth Giro d’Italia invite in a row.
Both teams have a history of success at the race, with Polti-Kometa celebrating stage wins via Lorenzo Fortunato atop the Zoncolan in 2021 and Davide Bais at Gran Sasso d’Italia last year. The Reverberi brothers’ Bardiani squad, which made their Giro debut in 1982, have won 21 stages stretching all the way back to Patrizio Gambirasio’s victory at Borgo Valsugana in 1988. Their most recent stage win came courtesy of Giulio Ciccone at Sestola in 2016.
Israel-Premier Tech can count two stage wins (Alex Dowsett in Vieste in 2020 and Dan Martin on Sega di Ala in 2021) on their palmarès, with Martin also finishing 10th two years ago.
Last May the team impressed throughout the race with neo-pro Derek Gee scoring four second places and two fourth places from the breakaway plus the overall combativity prize. The Canadian’s teammates Sebastian Berwick and Marco Frigo also took a stage podium apiece.
Tudor Pro Cycling, meanwhile, have no Giro experience but will make their Grand Tour debut in Italy in what will be the squad’s second year in the ProTeam ranks.
Last year they took 11 wins including at Milano-Torino and the Giro di Sicilia and their upgraded roster for 2024 includes big Italian names and Giro stage winners in sprinter Alberto Dainese and Classics man Matteo Trentin as well as climber Michael Storer.
The 2024 Giro d’Italia will kick off on May 4 in Piemonte with a challenging stage to Torino before the second day brings a summit finish at the Santuario di Oropa. Stages on the road to the finale in Rome include 68km of time trialling and major mountain tests at Livigno and the Passo Brocon.
Elsewhere, RCS Sport announced wildcard entries for their other spring races. Israel-Premier Tech, Lotto-Dstny, and Uno-X Mobility will join the 18 WorldTour teams at Strade Bianche (March 2).
Tirreno-Adriatico (March 4-10) will see the Israeli squad joined on the start line in Lido di Camaiore by Corratec-Vini Fantini, Q36.5, Polti-Kometa, Tudor, Uno-X, and Bardiani.
Finally, the season’s first Monument – Milan-San Remo (March 16) – sees Israel, Lotto and Uno-X take up three automatic invitation places. Corratec, Polti, Tudor, and Bardiani also receive invitations.