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Seven Americans and one Canadian are among the 189 starters from 21 teams lining up for the individual time trial Saturday in Monaco to click the 2009 Tour de France into gear.
U.S.-registered Garmin-Slipstream boasts the strongest North American representation, with Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Danny Pate and Tyler Farrar starting from the United States and Ryder Hesjedal as Canada’s lone representative.
Columbia-Highroad, another U.S.-registered team with a strong international flavor, starts with only one North American rider, with George Hincapie back for his record 14th Tour.
Astana lines up with two Americans, with Levi Leipheimer and the widely anticipated return of seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.
Several North American riders were on the bubble on their respective teams and unfortunately did not get selected. Michael Barry (Columbia-Highroad) and Svein Tuft (Garmin-Slipstream) were two Canadians hoping to earn a bid this year.
Chris Horner’s exclusion from Astana raised the ire of many fans, who felt that the consistent veteran deserved a spot among the Astana Tour nine.
Will Frischkorn, who rode last year at Garmin-Slipstream, was overlooked this year. Jason McCartney also missed out on a spot on the highly competitive selection for Saxo Bank.
The North American presence is relatively light compared to 41 from France, 28 from Spain and 15 from Germany.