Welcome to California GreenEdge, Project 1T4i and Colombia-Coldeportes.
These first timers are making the trip to the 2012 Amgen Tour of California which will take place May 13 to 20. These newbies will join 13 other squads, from ProTeam to Pro Continental and Continental at the eight stage race.
“Amgen Tour of California has always been a first class event, with great courses, amazing organization, and incredible fans,” said Chris Horner, Amgen Tour of California’s defending champion.
“This year’s event looks to be the best ever, with an even more challenging route and a roster of 16 of the best teams in the world. I’m looking forward to coming back to defend my title – it promises to be a fantastic eight days in California!” Note– he;ll be even more motivated to win after just falling short today at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Horner is right about the fantastic part. Little Levi Leipheimer (Omage-Pharma-Quickstep) will try to beat his former teammate Horner to win his fourth Cali title and maybe he’ll bring Tom Boonen along for a vacation or a sprint.
Then super-team BMC will be at the show with young Tejay Van Garderen targeting victory and Big George Hincapie there to soak up the fan applause as Most Beloved American Cyclist.
That’s not forgetting the powerhouse Garmin-Barracuda squad of the argyle genius Jonathan Vaughters. They tried to win this race for years and came close with Dave Zabriskie two years ago so maybe this is the year Tom Danielson steps up the podium.
The Italians at Liquigas are also back with there US Cannondale bike supplier. Peter Sagan has won stages at the last two editions including at Big Bear and that stage is back in the mix. Lime green Americans I Am Ted King and Timmy No Fancy Moniker Duggan will be riding hard.
Special props go to Rabobank who have always loved California — even when the race was held in the February rains. They’re down for their seventh edition and we’re hoping to see Tour de France tough guy Laurens Ten Dam. His phantom of the Opera face after his Tour crash was scary but he rode all the way to Paris.
FInally, Tour of California organizers handed out a French twist. We haven’t seen France on the invite list since 2009 so we say Bonjour to AG2R who return to Cali.
Outakes and notes: No candy! Perennial fan favorite Jelly Belly was not invited. No Sky, either — what, couldn’t afford the airfare? No Team Type 1. Phil Southerland’s aggressive squad seems to be more focused on Europe these days as it pushed hard for a grand tour invite (Vuelta, Please!) but their Pro Conti rivals UnitedHealthcare will ride.
Making an increasing amount of noise, Team Exergy scored a big invite. They raced the inaugural US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado last summer and aging sprinter Fast Freddy Rodriquez showed the massive crowds in Denver he still has a few fast twitch fibers left, taking a fine third place behind the Liquigas boys. Freddy lives in Berkeley, California so his fans are thrilled.
Twisted Spoke will cover the race for Cycle Sport magazine and we are bouncing off the walls in anticipation.
• BMC Racing Team (USA)
• Rabobank Cycling Team (Ned)
• Garmin- Barracuda (USA)
• RadioShack-Nissan (Lux)
• Liquigas-Cannondale (Ita)
• Omega Pharma – QuickStep (Bel)
• AG2R La Mondiale (Fra)
• GreenEdge Cycling Team (Aus)
UCI Professional Continental Teams
• Team Spidertech Powered By C10 (Can)
• UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
• Project 1t4i (Ned)
• Colombia-Coldeportes (Col)
UCI Continental Teams
• Team Optum Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
• Bissell Pro Cycling (USA)
• Team Exergy (USA)
• Bontrager Livestrong Team (USA)