Ireland could have up to six riders on the Giro d’Italia start line in Belfast on May 9 after the shortlist for wildcard entries for the three-week race was unveiled yesterday.
As it stands, there will almost definitely be three Irish starters — in the shape of Dan Martin, Philip Deignan and Nicolas Roche — the latter confirming yesterday that he would definitely start — but the chances of more entrants to the field have been given a significant boost by the race organisers.
Yesterday, eight teams were named as wildcard entries for the event with Sam Bennett’s Net App Endura, Martyn Irvine’s Unitedhealthcare, and Stephen Clancy’s Novo Nordisk in the running for the three available slots.
Clancy, however, is the least likely to get the nod should his US-based team get invited as he is still an U23 rider who will be in just his second year in the pro peloton.
However, Irvine is world scratch champion and by the time the race starts he will have completed his major track commitments for the season, culminating in the World Track Championships in Cali, Colombia, in late February and early March.
The news emerged on a day when Irvine sadly buried his father-in-law, Joe McNally, who died last weekend.
Bennett will be riding his first season at Pro Continental level for Net App Endura next year, having moved up in recent weeks from An Post-Chainreaction.
However, his team management have already said they believe he can win races and they plan to field him in major events in 2014.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved