California packing list includes jelly beans, but no wine
The road is only so wide and there are only so many hotel beds in the Central Valley of California. Five U.S. Continental teams got the good news that they’ll have beds for their riders when the Amgen Tour of California leaves Nevada City on May 16. Six others did not make the cut.
In are Kelly Benefit Strategies, who missed the cut in 2009 before going on to win three international UCI stage races, and Jelly Belly-Kenda, whose 2009 results left something to be desired, but who came out swinging at the Redlands Classic in March, winning stage 1 and sending three riders into the top six of the final GC.
Most notably missing are Jamis-Sutter Home and the upstart Bahati Foundation. The former is the 2009 National Racing Calendar team champion and rider Ivan Dominguez has won stages at California and the Tour of Missouri.
The latter is home to Floyd Landis and Nathan O’Neill, who placed fifth overall in 2006. Bahati Foundation won a stage at Redlands with Hilton Clark in the stage 2 criterium and also boasts 2007 California prologue runner-up Jason Donald.
* Of the U.S. Continental teams invited, none contain riders who won a California stage in the race’s four-year history. Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) and Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) are the most likely to contend, the latter in the stage 7 Los Angeles time trial.
* Two U.S. focused international teams, Fly V Australia and Spidertech-Planet Energy, made the list. Martin Gilbert (Spidertech-Planet Energy) won the final stage of Missouri in 2009. He and Fly V Australia’s Jonathan Cantwell should be the best bets for a Continental team to challenge Mark Cavendish and Thor Hushovd in a bunch sprint.
* California (and Tour of Missouri, if it happens) is the only opportunity for Continental teams to use race radios in 2010. How this will affect these teams is yet to be seen, though directors may be less instructive and more informational when talking to their riders — a welcome change for many.
* Fly V Australia and Team Type 1 had lackluster results in California in 2009, with one and three riders finishing, respectively. Both teams suffered from illness throughout the race and will look to put a better foot forward in 2010.