20 January, 2008

Slipstream scores Giro invite

American continental professional team Slipstream-Chipotle has received an invitation to compete at this year's Giro d'Italia, Slipstream team manager Jonathan Vaughters confirmed with VeloNews Saturday.

Vaughters got the news last week from RCS director Angelo Zomegnan, who is expected to announce the full list of teams invited to the Giro in coming days. In addition to the May 10-June 10 Giro, Vaughters said Slipstream would compete in other RCS events such as Milan-San Remo, held March 7, and Tirreno-Adriatico, held March 12-18.

Though the team has not yet been invited to race at the 2008 Tour de France, Vaughters said he would start many of his team's Tour hopefuls at the Giro. Riders that have expressed interest in both grand tours include David Millar and Christian Vande Velde.

"We'll probably have quite a bit of overlap from the Tour squad to the Giro squad," Vaughters said. "We're going to do it old school and have a pretty similar squad, not totally the same, but fairly similar squad to both and just not race much in between."

Vaughters said he hoped to give a pair of the team's young climbers, Tom Peterson and Lucas Euser, their first chance at a grand tour. Although much of the Giro's climbing comes in the final week, the racing "just isn't as fast on the flats as at the Tour, so younger guys can actually have a chance to make it to the end and be all right," he said.

Vaughters said that in addition to meeting with RCS, he spent last week in Geneva, Switzerland, meeting with the UCI wild-card commission's Alain Rumpf. Because of UCI's new "biological passport" anti-doping measures, Vaughters said that continental professional teams hoping to receive wild-card invitations to ProTour events must apply with the UCI and put themselves through the same administrative auditing and anti-doping procedures as ProTour teams.
"We basically had to go into a board room and plead our case," Vaughters said. "I haven't heard yet, but I think we are. We were given a scorecard that shows how your team is graded on a 4.0 scale, something we can all relate to, and we received a 3.56 out of 4.0."

Vaughters said in all five continental professional teams would be selected by the wildcard commission to be eligible for invitations to ProTour events, adding that two other teams he expected to receive wild-card invitations to ProTour events in 2008 are Agritubel and Barloworld.

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