Final four teams get Tour de France nod
Four second division cycling teams -- France's outfits Cofidis, Direct Energie and Fortuneo, and Belgian outfit Wanty -- were on Thursday handed invitations to this summer's Tour de France.
The race gets underway in Dusseldorf, Germany on July 1 with 22 teams, including the 18 top UCI WorldTour teams competing alongside the four second division outfits.
"The choice follows logic," race director Christian Prudhomme told AFP.
"Everyone agreed on the need to beef up the second division. It would be good for cycling to have more competition."
Cofidis will be lead by French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni; with Direct Energie counting on another French sprinter Bryan Coquard and veteran compatriot Thomas Voeckler.
Rising British cycling star Dan McLay, 25, will lead Fortuneo's challenge, with Wanty's lineup including several French riders, notably climber Guillaume Martin.
"It's a team which has been submerged by bad luck, they know they have to seize this chance," added Prudhomme of the team which has been hit by injuries in recent years.
Last year Cofidis, Direct Energie and Fortuneo also received invitations along with German outfit Bora.