Tour de France organisers have announced the first two wildcard teams for this year’s edition of the Grand Tour race.
The Belgian-registered Wanty - Groupe Gobert and the French-based Cofidis Solutions Crédits have been chosen to join the field for the 106th edition of the race.
Both teams will join the 18 invited International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour teams guaranteed a place on the start line.
Despite not being a WorldTour team, Cofidis have consistently featured as a team at the Tour de France, having been part of every edition since 1997.
It is the ninth consecutive year the team has been invited to the race, having either previously qualified as a ProTeam or qualifying.
Wanty - Groupe Gobert have now been invited to the race for the last three years.
The two teams were the highest ranked on the UCI Europe Tour last year.
This is set to become the norm from 2020, with the top two teams on the tour qualifying to all three Grand Tours under UCI rules.
The final two wildcard teams for this year’s Tour de France will be organised at a later date, organisers have revealed.
This year’s race is due to take place from July 6 to 28, with Brussels set to stage the Grand Depart.
Britain’s Geraint Thomas has announced he will compete at the Grand Tour, with the Team Sky rider starting as the defending champion following his maiden triumph in 2018.
His team-mate Chris Froome has also announced his intention to seek a fifth Tour de France crown this year.
Both riders will miss the Giro d’Italia, with Froome opting not to defend the title he earned for the first time in 2018.
The duo look set to spearhead Team Sky’s challenge again in what could prove to be the final year of the team after broadcast giant Sky announced in December that 2019 would mark the final year of their involvement in cycling.
This has led to the team being forced to seek new sponsors if they are to continue beyond the end of this year.
Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali is reportedly set to ride both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
Nibali won the Giro d’Italia in both 2013 and 2016 and triumphed at the Tour de France in 2014.
His 2014 victory was the only time in the last seven editions of the race that a Team Sky rider had not emerged as the winner.
The Netherlands’ Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d’Italia champion, has also expressed his intention to compete in the first two Grand Tours of the year.