Nine UCI ProTeams confirmed for Amgen Tour of California
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nine UCI ProTeams confirmed for Amgen Tour of California

by VeloNation Press at 1:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
Impressive lineup for 2011 edition

Michael RogersWhat looks like the strongest-ever lineup for the Amgen Tour of California has been announced, with a total of nine UCI ProTeams being confirmed for the May 15 -22 WorldTour race. Some of North America’s top Pro Continental and Continental teams will also take part, and some very aggressive racing is expected.

The nine ProTeams include US squads Garmin-Cervélo, BMC Racing Team, HTC Highroad and Team RadioShack, as well as Sky Procycling (Great Britain), Rabobank (Netherlands), Liquigas-Cannondale (Italy), Saxo Bank-SunGard (Denmark) and Leopard Trek (Luxembourg).

While the final startlist is yet to be drawn up in relation to the riders concerned, organisers have cited the names of some of those likely to take part. These include Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervélo), George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), world under 23 champion Michael Matthews (Rabobank), Matt Goss and Tejay Van Garderen (HTC Highroad), triple race winner Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), defending champion Michael Rogers (Sky Procycling), and recent Tirreno-Adriatico stage winner Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank SunGard).

Four Pro Continental teams have also been confirmed, amongst them the US squads Team Type 1 and United Healthcare, Canadian outfit SpiderTech-C10 and the German NetApp setup. Five of the six Continental teams are also from the US, namely Jamis Sutter Home, Kelly Benefit Strategies – Optum Health, Bissell Pro Cycling, Jelly Belly p/b Kenda and Kenda/5 Hour Energy Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder. The sixth is the Colombian Movistar squad which is currently leading the Americas Tour, and which received an invitation on that basis.

The Amgen Tour of California received a boost in its importance when the race moved from being an early-season event to taking place later in the season. Although it clashes with the Giro d’Italia, many top teams and names take part; for the American riders, the race is important as it’s the biggest home stage race that they can do. For the US and international teams, there are also sponsor considerations and interests which make success there an important target.

It’s also a good option for riders who want a well-organised contest without taking on the three weeks of the Giro.

Two highly regarded team managers underlined why the race is important to them. “The Amgen Tour of California has become one of the world’s great sporting events,” said HTC Highroad owner Bob Stapleton. “With its epic stages in Tahoe, the central coast and Mt Baldy, it's a spectacle only exceeded in cycling by the Tour de France. Our home state provides a stunning setting for athletes, spectators and a world-wide television audience.”

As a new team, Leopard-Trek will be taking part for the first time, but general manager Brian Nygaard was previously involved with the SaxoBank team. He knows the race and is pleased his team has received an invite. It includes some of cycling’s top names such as Fabian Cancellara and double Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck.

“The Amgen Tour of California is one of world’s greatest showcases for professional cycling, full stop,” he stated. “The atmosphere, the fans and the race as such is something truly special and we are very happy to participate with a strong line-up for Leopard Trek. It is without a doubt one of our big goals of the season…we look forward to racing one of the most scenic and attractive races of the season with the highest ambitions.”

Unsurprisingly, race organisers AEG Sports are upbeat about the lineup. Its president Andrew Messick recognised that the calibre of teams is increasing. He’s also anticipating a strong list of competitors, in terms of the riders who will be selected for those teams.

“Beyond the incredible talent of Tour de France competitors, world champions, Olympic Champions and internationally known cyclists, is the amazing talent of up and coming American cyclists, like Peter Stetina of Team Garmin-Cervélo, Ben King of Team RadioShack and Tejay Van Garderen of HTC-Highroad. I am thrilled that our race gives them the opportunity to build their profile among cycling in the U.S.”


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