This year, the US American Team Rally UHC Cycling (RLY), the French Equipe Direct Energie (TDE) and a selection of the Swiss national team (Swiss Cycling) will be enjoying the popular wild cards.
InfrontRingier, organizer of the Tour de Suisse, is awarding two wildcards to Pro Continental teams and, as a novelty, to a selection of Swiss Cycling for this year’s edition of the Swiss National Tour. Together with the 18 seeded teams of the UCI WorldTour, 21 teams of 7 riders each will therefore compete in the Tour de Suisse 2019.
Rally UHC Cycling
The US-American team, operated by Circuit Sport, has been on the road since 2007, since last season with Pro Continental status. Sponsor of the team is UnitedHealth Group, the world’s largest provider in the healthcare sector.
Not only men start in the striking orange jerseys, Rally UHC also has an elite women’s team.
Last season Colin Joyce was able to draw attention to himself and Rally UHC Cycling at the Arctic Race of Norway with a stage win and third place in the overall standings. With Brandon McNulty, Junior Time Trial World Champion of 2016, Rally UHC has one of the great American youngsters in its team.
New for the 2019 season, the ambitious Americans also have an experienced road captain in their ranks in Svein Tuft (formerly Mitchelton-Scott). The Canadian already wore the maglia rosaof the Giro d’Italia (2014) and will start in the Tour de Suisse in 2015.
He is also one of the main protagonists in the Oscar-nominated documentary film “Wonderful Losers”.
The French team, which until four years ago started under the name Europcar , is already competing in its 19th season since its foundation in 2000.
As in the last two years, the French pro-continental team will start this year’s Tour de Suisse with a wildcard.
The French team around their leader Lilian Calmejane will try to find a stage for themselves with selected climbers and punchers and will certainly set the tone at the Tour de Suisse this year.
The biggest innovation for the 2019 season is the arrival of the reigning Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra (formerly Quickstep). The Dutchman will start at the Tour de Suisse for the last time in 2014.
With compatriot Pim Ligthart and Italian Niccolo Bonifazio, the French team was able to strengthen itself for the new season.
Niccolo Bonifazio already took his first victory for Direct Energie on the streets of Gabon last week.
A rule change decided by the UCI world governing body during the Road World Championships in Innsbruck makes it possible for a selection of the Swiss national team to start at the Tour de Suisse.
The tour of the country thus becomes a showcase for young athletes who have not yet gained a foothold in a top team. Opportunities for aspiring riders to gain experience in top league tours are usually only available if they are signed to a pro-continental team and receive a wild card.
It can be assumed that the team will consist of a mixture of talented U23 athletes and younger elite riders who have not yet been able to secure a place in the Beletage of cycling. National Road Coach Danilo Hondo is looking forward to the new highlight in the annual calendar: “For us it is extremely valuable that we can offer our young athletes the opportunity to compete at this beautiful race at the highest level”.