Prudhomme: IAM would've been fourth Tour Wildcard

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Christian Prudhomme (Getty Images)

Tour de France organiser Christian Prudhomme says that a fourth wildcard place would have been a welcome luxury for the race's 100th edition and would've erased the need to omit Swiss squad IAM from this year's Grande Boucle start line.

In the latest Europe Tour classification, Sojasun is ahead of IAM Cycling and we took into consideration when we made the cut off.

Prudhomme raised few eyebrows with the decision to award the final three places in this year's Tour de France to three of the four applying French teams, Sojasun, Europcar and Cofidis, leaving IAM, NetaApp-Endura and Bretagne Schuller out in the cold.

The decision was made harder than normal with the presence of 19 WorldTour teams in this year's top tier after Katusha successfully fought its exclusion by the UCI in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Prudhomme said the call for the final Tour invitation, a decision that provides a huge financial windfall to a team through sponsor exposure, came down to IAM and French squad Sojasun, with the latter making the cut based on its higher ranking in the UCI Europe Tour.

Europcar's place was "never in doubt" after last year's three stage haul, and the king of the mountain's title through Frenchman Thomas Voeckler.

Cofidis made it on roster alone, while Prudhomme admitted the team had been underwhelming in the season to date.

"We’ve seen a lot from IAM Cycling since the start of the season and they weren’t missing much," said Prudhome of the final choice.

"It’s a team that’s started well. Frankly, a fourth invitation would have been welcome.

"My big regret is that we had no choice but to invite only three teams. But having over 200 riders on the start line would not have made any sense."

Prudhomme underlined safety concerns as his biggest issue with extending a fourth invitation to a team.

While IAM only boasts a few results at Europe Tour level this year, the team has distinguished itself in the WorldTour.

IAM's Johann Tschopp won the mountain's classification at Paris-Nice, and with Heinrich Haussler the team also took top-10 results in the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem. Haussler was also unlucky to only come away with top-15s in Roubaix, E3 Harelbeke and Milan-San Remo.

Sojasun's best result came early in the year at Étoile de Bessèges, Jonathan Hivert winning the overall classification.

"We are disappointed not to be selected for the Tour de France, mainly because we believe we have the talent and resources to be there," IAM general manager Serge Beucherie said.

"Even though we have not won a great deal, we are on a sporting level to compete at the Tour."

The Tour de France starts in Corsica, 29 June, with every stage broadcast live on SBS ONE.

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