Tour de Suisse once again assigns three wild cards
InfrontRingier, organiser of the Tour de Suisse, is assigning two wild cards to professional continental teams for this year’s tour. For the first time, one will also be assigned to a selection of riders from Swiss Cycling. When added to the 18 teams on the UCI World Tour, a total of 21 teams with seven riders each will compete in the Tour de Suisse 2019.
Rally UHC Cycling
The US team, managed by Circuit Sport, was founded in 2007 and achieved pro continental status last season. The team is sponsored by UnitedHealth Group, the world’s largest provider in the healthcare sector.
Their striking orange jerseys are not limited to the men: Rally UHC also has an elite women’s team.
Last season, Colin Joyce drew attention to himself and to Rally UHC Cycling with a stage win and third place in the general classification at the Arctic Race of Norway. With Brandon McNulty, the 2016 junior time trial world champion, Rally UHC has one of the major emerging American talents in its team.
In 2019, the ambitious Americans will also count Svein Tuft (previously Mitchelton-Scott), an experienced road captain, among their number. The Canadian has previously worn the maglia rosaat the Giro d’Italia in 2014 and competed in the Tour de Suisse in 2015.
He is also one of the main protagonists in the Oscar-nominated documentary Wonderful Losers.
The French team, which went by the name Europcar until four years ago, is competing in its 19th season since it was founded in 2000.
The French pro continental team is once again starting with a Tour de Suisse wild card, as it has done for the last two years.
The team around leader Lilian Calmejane will try to win a stage with one of their climbers or punchers and are sure to bring some excitement to the Tour de Suisse again this year.
The biggest change for the 2019 season is the arrival of the current Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra (formerly Quickstep). The Dutch cyclist last competed in the Tour de Suisse in 2014.
The French team has made some international additions with the Dutch Pim Ligthart and the Italian Niccolò Bonifazio. Bonifazio just accomplished the first victory of the 2019 season for the French squad on the streets of Gabun.
A rule change approved by the world association UCI during the Road World Championships in Innsbruck has made it possible for a selection of riders from the Swiss national team to join the starting line at the Tour de Suisse.
This will make the tour a showcase for young athletes who have not yet established themselves in a top team. Up-and-coming riders usually only get the opportunity to acquire experience of the highest-level tours if they are under contract with a pro continental team that receives a wild card.
The team will likely consist of a mix of talented U23 athletes and younger elite riders who have not yet managed to gain a place in the top tier of cycling. The national road coach Danilo Hondo is delighted with this new highlight of the sporting calendar: «It’s extremely valuable for us to be able to offer our young athletes the chance to see how they measure up at the highest level in this fantastic race.»