BMC RACING (USA)
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded in 2007. Based in Santa Rosa, California. Sponsored by Swiss bicycle manufacturer. Managed by Jim Ochowicz, former manager of American teams 7-Eleven and Motorola. Home to 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and three-time U.S. national champion George Hincapie.
RIDERS TO WATCH: 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans; 16-time Tour de France veteran George Hincapie.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded as TIAA-CREF in 2004. Based in Boulder, Colorado. Sponsored by GPS manufacturer and Canadian bicycle brand. Managed by former pro Jonathan Vaughters, a Denver native. Top American sprinter Tyler Farrar, and Canadian all-rounder Ryder Hesjedal. RIDERS TO WATCH: Tom Danielson and Peter Stetina, a pair of top American climbers each based in Boulder and comfortable at high altitude.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded in 2007 from the ashes of the former German T-Mobile team. Based in San Luis Obispo, California. Sponsored by Taiwan-based manufacturer of smartphones. Managed by High Road Sports owner Bob Stapleton, who became a billionaire after selling his company VoiceStream Wireless to Deutsche Telekom in 2000.
RIDERS TO WATCH: 23-year-old Fort Collins-based Tejay van Garderen, who can climb and time trial and has been billed as America’s next Tour de France hopeful.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: A new-for-2011 squad built around Luxembourg’s top riders, brothers Andy and Fränk Schleck. Sponsored by wealthy Luxembourg real estate investor Flavio Becca and American bicycle manufacturer. Several riders, including the Schleck brothers, Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady and time trial champion Fabian Cancellara, defected from Saxo Bank to join manager Brian Nygaard at Leopard.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Fränk Schleck, winner on L’Alpe d’Huez in the 2006 Tour de France; the affable and aggressive German veteran Jens Voigt and Andy Scheck, three-time Tour de France runner-up.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: An Italian squad founded in 1999 and managed by Roberto Amadio. Sponsored by an Italian natural gas company and an American bicycle manufacturer. Ranked second in the international rankings for a third consecutive year. Home to Vincenzo Nibali, winner of the 2010 Vuelta a España, and Ivan Basso, the 2010 Giro d’Italia winner.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Colorado native Timmy Duggan, a high-altitude specialist who has made the USA Pro Cycling Challenge his season
objective; American Ted King, coming back from a nasty June crash.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: This team’s organization is the same group behind the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel squads that earned Lance Armstrong seven Tour de France victories. The team evolved into Astana in 2008 and 2009 before RadioShack came on as title sponsor in 2010. The team is owned and operated by Capital Sports & Entertainment in Austin, Texas, and is managed by Belgian Johan Bruyneel.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Levi Leipheimer, the 2010 California and Utah overall winner; 2010 U.S. National Champion Ben King
RABOBANK (THE NETHERLANDS)
ABOUT THIS TEAM: The longest-running organization in professional cycling, this squad formed in 1984 and has had a team at the Tour de France every year since. In 1996 the Dutch bank took over as the title sponsor. Americans Levi Leipheimer and Tejay van Garderen have ridden for this squad, as well as RadioShack director Johan Bruyneel, back in 1996.
RIDERS TO WATCH: After a tough Tour de France, GC contender, Robert Gesink has the climbing and descending chops to contend for a podium finish. Also watch for four-time Dutch time trial champion Steff Clement.
SAXO BANK-SUNGARD (DENMARK)
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded in 2001 as Team CSC, the Danish squad is home to six-time grand tour champion Alberto Contador and is managed by 1996 Tour champion Bjarne Riis. Sponsored by a Danish investment bank and Pennsylvania-based multinational software company. The team boasts top sprinter J.J. Haedo of Argentina, who began his professional career racing in the U.S.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Richie Porte, rising Australian star who finished seventh overall at the 2010 Tour of Italy and held the leader’s jersey for three days; and Gustav Larsson, the silver medalist in the individual time trial at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 world championships.
SKIL-SHIMANO (THE NETHERLANDS)
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded in 2005 and managed by Iwan Spekenbrink. The team’s main sponsors are Skil, a manufacturer of small power tools and Shimano, a manufacturer of cycling components and fishing tackle. The second-tier Dutch squad often features in the spring semi-classics and Asia Tour events and makes their U.S. debut.
RIDERS TO WATCH: 2009 German national champion Martin Reimer.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Canada’s top pro team, founded in 2008, has built its program behind former Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey wearer Steve Bauer. Sponsored by a kinesiology tape/therapeutic products company and a conglomerate of Canadian businesses that include Blackberry and Planet Energy.
RIDERS TO WATCH: American veterans Jon Patrick McCarty, who won the 2011 Amgen Tour of California KOM jersey, and part-time Colorado transplant Lucas Euser.
TEAM TYPE 1-SANOFI (USA)
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded in 2004 by diabetic riders Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge. Six of the 21 riders on the Team Type 1 pro team are athletes living with diabetes. The team grew to the second-tier Pro Continental level in 2011, making its first inroads in Europe with an overall win at the Presidential Tour of Turkey and a stage win in Canada’s Tour de Beauce. RIDERS TO WATCH: Tour of Turkey winner Aleksandr Efimkin; former ProTour rider Javier Megias.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded in 2003 as Health Net-Maxxis, this squad was the top domestic team in the U.S. from 2004 to 2009. Based in Oakland, California, and managed by former pro Mike Tamayo. Sponsored by Minnesota-based health-care provider. Returning to the Pro Continental level in 2011, the team has seen success abroad with near-stage wins in Belgium, Italy and Argentina.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Australian Rory Sutherland, who has made his home in Boulder, Colorado, since 2007, should contend for the overall; veteran Robert Förster joined the squad in 2011 to close out the twilight of a solid European career.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded in 2005 as Advantage Benefits-Endeavour. Perennial national calendar title contender. Sponsored by American floor-care company; Bissell president Mark Bissell is an avid cyclist. RIDERS TO WATCH: All-rounder and top domestic GC rider Ben Jacques-Maynes; Former Kiwi time trial champion Jeremy Vennell; Boulder, Colorado, residents Frank Pipp and Chris Baldwin.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: The decade-old Colombian team has moved between amateur and professional multiple times since 1999. Sponsored by a telecommunications company, the squad was third overall in 2010 America Tour, and has spent much of 2011 in Europe. Raúl Mesa manages the team.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Tour of Colombia stage winner Walter Pedraza; talented 26-year-old climber Juan Pablo Suárez.
ABOUT THIS TEAM: Founded in 2010 as an elite amateur team and based in Boise, Idaho. Sponsored by group of alternative energy development firms. The upstart pro squad has surprised this year with strong rides on the biggest days across the U.S.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Colombian all-rounder Carlos Alzate; three-time U.S. champion “Fast Freddie” Rodriguez.
GOBERNACION DE ATIOQUIA- INDEPORTES
ABOUT THIS TEAM: This first-year squad based in Medellin, Colombia, is sponsored by the departmental government of Atioquia in northwestern Colombia. Santiago Botero, former teammate of riders Oscar Sevilla and Jose Enriqué Gutierrez, is the team’s manager.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Former Tour de France best young rider Oscar Sevilla; 2010 America Tour series runner-up, Cuban Arnold Alcolea.
JELLY BELLY-KENDA (USA)
ABOUT THIS TEAM: One of the longest-standing title sponsors in pro cycling and a top U.S. development program. Sponsored by California-based candy company, now in its 12th season. Based in San Marcos, California, and managed by former U.S. Olympian Danny Van Haute.
RIDERS TO WATCH: Fort Collins, Colorado-based climber Alex Hagman; top U.S. sprinter Ken Hanson; aggressive all-rounder Bernard Van Ulden.