Paris - Four second division cycling teams - France's outfits Cofidis, Direct Energie and Fortuneo, and Belgian outfit Wanty - were on Thursday handed invitations to this summer's Tour de France.
The race gets underway in Dusseldorf, Germany on July 1 with 22 teams, including the 18 top UCI WorldTour teams competing alongside the four second division outfits.
"The choice follows logic," race director Christian Prudhomme told AFP.
"Everyone agreed on the need to beef up the second division. It would be good for cycling to have more competition."
Cofidis will be lead by French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni; with Direct Energie counting on another French sprinter Bryan Coquard and veteran compatriot Thomas Voeckler.
Rising British cycling star Dan McLay, 25, will lead Fortuneo's challenge, with Wanty's line-up including several French riders, notably climber Guillaume Martin.
"It's a team which has been submerged by bad luck, they know they have to seize this chance," added Prudhomme of the team which has been hit by injuries in recent years.
Last year Cofidis, Direct Energie and Fortuneo also received invitations along with German outfit Bora.
Full list of 22 teams and leading riders who will line up in the 2017 Tour de France, confirmed on Thursday:
AG2R La Mondiale (FRA): Romain Bardet (FRA)
Astana (KAZ): Miguel Angel Lopez (COL)
Bahrain (BRN): Vicenzo Nibali (ITA)
BMC (USA): Richie Porte (AUS), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)
Bora (GER): Peter Sagan (SVK), Rafal Majka (POL)
Cannondale (USA): Pierre Rolland (FRA)
Dimension Data (RSA): Mark Cavendish (GBR)
United Arab Emirates (UAE): Rui Costa (POR)
FDJ (FRA): Thibaut Pinot (FRA)
Katusha (RUS): Alexander Kristoff (NOR), Tony Martin (GER)
Lotto (BEL): Andre Greipel (GER)
Lotto NL (NED): Dylan Groenewegen (NED)
Movistar (ESP): Nairo Quintana (COL), Alejandro Valverde (ESP)
Orica (AUS): Adam Yates (GBR)
Quick Step (BEL): Marcel Kittel (GER)
Sky (GBR): Chris Froome (GBR)
Sunweb (GER): Michael Matthews (AUS)
Trek (USA): Alberto Contador (ESP), John Degenkolb (GER)
Cofidis (FRA): Nacer Bouhanni (FRA)
Direct Energie: Bryan Coquard (FRA), Thomas Voeckler (FRA)
Fortuneo (FRA): Daniel McLay (GBR)
Wanty (BEL): Guillaume Martin (FRA)