PARIS -- American Tyler Hamilton will compete in the Tour de France with his new team Phonak of Switzerland, one of seven teams given wild-card invitations yesterday.
Hamilton, a Marblehead, Mass., native, finished fourth in last year's Tour, riding for Team CSC, despite a broken collarbone. Before joining CSC, he raced with five-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong's US Postal Service team.
While 14 teams have qualified for the July 3-25 race, organizers of cycling's showcase event had seven invitations to hand out yesterday. Phonak was selected for the first time since it was founded in 2001.
"I knew it would work out this time. We built ourselves up in such a way that they couldn't pass us by anymore," Phonak board president Andy Rihs said.
Former world champion Mario Cipollini's Domina Vacanze team was also invited. Cipollini, Italy's top sprinter, hasn't taken part in the Tour since 1999.
The Tuscan cyclist, famed for his powerful sprints and publicity stunts, has said he was trying to do everything possible to win a place in the Tour.
A total of 21 teams have been announced for the race, and organizers said it was possible that another team could be asked to compete.
Armstrong is preparing to go for a record sixth straight Tour victory this year.