Tour de France announces 22 teams for 2010 race

Armstrong, Evans assured spots; Dutch teams shut out

Garmin-Transitions, Team RadioShack, BMC Racing Team, Team Sky, Katusha and Cervelo TestTeam have received wild card invitations to the 2010 Tour de France, race organisers Amaury Sports Organisation announced Tuesday.

The six teams join the 16 teams which were automatically selected under a September 2008 agreement with the International Cycling Union.

Neither Skil-Shimano nor Vacansoleil was selected. Both Dutch Professional Continental teams had hoped to ride, since the Tour starts in the Netherlands on July 3.

The wild card invitations mean the Tour de France will feature all the big names in the peloton, including seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), World Champion Cadel Evans (BMC), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) who finished fourth overall in 2008 and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who was fourth last year.

The 16 teams automatically selected teams under the 2008 agreement are: Team Milram, Quick Step, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Team Saxo Bank, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Footon-Servetto, HTC-Columbia, AG2R La Mondiale, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, Lampre-Farnese, Liquigas-Doimo, Astana, and Rabobank.

Wild card invitations: Garmin-Transitions, Team RadioShack, BMC Racing Team, Team Sky, Katusha, and Cervelo TestTeam.

Asked whether the fact there were four US teams and one British team on the list this year indicated that increased efforts were being made to attract interest from english-speaking countries, tour chief Christian Prudhomme replied that "The Tour will always stay the Tour de France."

"It's the greatest cycle race in the world and there will be no turning our backs on the past.

"The race is becoming more international and that is only logical. In football, the best French players more often than not play for the top foreign clubs."

Dave Brailsford, team principal for Team Sky, said: "A place in the Tour has been a dream for so many of us for so long - now it's a reality. We will do everything we can to help create an exciting race with a group of highly talented and motivated riders who race to win.

"We are a rider-centred team and the riders must take the credit for getting us selected for this year's Tour de France through their fantastic early season performances. They are a fantastic bunch of guys and I know they will arrive in Rotterdam ready to give it their very best."

Wiggins, who was fourth in the 2009 Tour before signing for Team Sky in December, added: "As a team we are thrilled that we're going to compete in the biggest bike race in the world.

"I'm hugely proud to be in a British-based team taking on the Tour de France and I'm convinced we'll leave our mark."

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