I do think the which teams will be invited to next years tour is very interesting and worthy of discussion. I can see the final choices for wildcards coming down to a perm 2 out of 3 between BMC, Sky and Vacansoleil.
I may have some basic facts wrong (and if so will welcome corrections) but my current understanding is:
*The current agreement between the UCI and ASO is that the 17 highest ranked ProTour teams from the previous year get automatic invites.
*There will be 16 PT teams with 2009 rankings in 2010 and thus will all get automatic invites.
*Although PT neither Radio Shak or Sky have a ranking for 09 and thus need wildcards.
*Prudhomme has hinted but not confirmed there may be 22 teams starting in 2010.
*Within 24 hours of the UCI announcing that BBox and Cofidis would not have their PT licences renewed the ASO guaranteed both teams invites. (Now at 18 teams)
*The invite for Radio Shack is a no-brainer. Love him or hate him Lance means big media coverage and thus money. They will be there. (19)
*Similarly Cevello. Why would they possibly exclude the 08 Maillot Jaune and the 09 Maillot Vert, barring a major doping scandle? (20)
*Barring a strong reason to exclude one of the 16 PT teams referred to above that will be it unless there are 22 starters.
If there are 22 starters we can look at other teams.
BMC: Are clearly going places in the long term and are building for the future. The presence of the current Rainbow Jersey (and previous one) plus double runner up must make them appealing.
Sky: Barring and exceptional performance in the Spring Classics and other early season races, don't really bring much to the table except for one factor: Murdoch! Whilst News Corp. only trade under the Sky brand in the UK and Italy (To the best of my knowledge) they are one of the (if not the) dominant media company in the world. Media brings money and money talks.
Vacansoleil: They had a brilliant end of season, Bozic winning a stage at the Vuelta over the likes of Grieple and Farrar and a 3rd at Paris-Tours, Westra attacking on most of that races flat stages and Hoogaland attacking on most of the hilly stages plus getting into the top 20 at the Worlds and Lombardia. Add in the Filleu brothers and the fact Brice has said he wants to target KOM next year (one thing the French would love almost as much a French Tour victory is a French KOM!) and they are a deserving case.
Also given that they won the Team Classification in Spain and had at least one man in almost every breakaway, plus Mosquera on the squad, I would like to think that Xacobeo Galicia would be in contention. Although from what I read on CN a few weeks ago they seem to be scaling back a little for next season and mostly focusing on Spanish races and so may not be all that interested in a wildcard for the Tour.
There is also Saur-Sojasun to consider; newly promoted to Pro Continental but ASO does love French teams to be present so maybe?
Back to my original contention: I suspect there will be 22 teams and it will come down two out of three between BMC, Sky and Vac. I think BMC and Sky will get the nod although, despite my national bias, on a sporting basis alone Sky is the one (who for 2010 at least) should lose out.