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AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA
(Half) the world at our doorstep
With TOC and Giro d'Italia running concurrently, teams are forced to make tough decisions

  • This May 12 file photo shows Ryder Hesjedal crossing the finish line after completing the 9th stage of the Giro d'Italia. Hesjedal, who rides with Garmin-Sharp, bypassed the Tour of California to race in Italy. (Gian Mattia D'Alberta / Associated Press)

Imagine the New York Yankees coming to town to play the A's or Giants. But instead of a full roster, the team in pinstripes brings only a portion of its players.

That might fly in spring training, when split squads are the norm, but would seem inconceivable during the regular season.

Yet that is typical in the world of cycling, where the UCI Pro teams — the big boys of racing — carry two or three or more separate mini-teams within their ranks.

So while the Amgen Tour of California brings the most successful cycling teams in the world to our back yard, not all of the sport's greatest individual riders are here.

“We run three programs almost all year,” said Matt Wilson, assistant sports director for Orica GreenEdge, a UCI Pro team based in Australia. “That doesn't mean we always have three races going on, but we basically have three teams going simultaneously.”

SIMULTANEOUS BIG EVENTS

The split is rarely more apparent than right now, when the Tour of California runs head-to-head against the Giro d'Italia. The TOC is the biggest road race in America, an up-and-coming event on the UCI calendar. The Giro is one of the three Grand Tours of cycling, along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta Espana. Riders can't be on two continents at one time, which makes for some very interesting decisions.

“So many factors come into play,” said Jackson Stewart, an assistant director with BMC, at team based here in Santa Rosa. “You have to balance. ... It's like you're trying to match a race's demand with your roster, and you also try to match who can perform there, and then who wants to be there, who's asking to go, who's preparing for this.”

So in BMC's case, young American contender Tejay Van Garderen and veteran Norwegian Thor Hushovd are riding in California, while Australian Cadel Evans, the 2011 Tour de France winner, and Taylor Phinney, another strong young American, are in Italy.

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