BMC, the cycling racing team based in Santa Rosa since 2006, has been awarded entry into the world's most prestigious cycling race, the 2010 Tour de France.
BMC's inclusion marks a remarkably quick ascendancy, given that it started five years ago as an amateur team, guided by Gavin Chilcott, a Santa Rosa High School graduate and former professional cyclist.
"Obviously we are quite pleased," said Chilcott, the team's general manager, "that the organization which runs the Tour (International Cycling Union) has great confidence in us."
Though Chilcott might have been a one-man office in the early days, he took great pains to emphasize that for BMC to now compete in the Tour de France, "it took the work of a great many people to make this happen, and some of them are behind the team that no one had heard of."
BMC is a wild-card entry. For the first time in Tour de France history, four American-based teams will compete in the 22-team field: Radio Shack, Columbia-HTC and Garmin-Transitions being the other three. BMC (Bicycle Manufacturing Company) is funded by Swiss business giant and cycling enthusiast Andy Rihs.
Even though this was the first year that BMC applied for wild-card status to the Tour de France, its selection didn't come as a complete surprise.
"There were three reasons that accounted for this," said Fabio Selvig, BMC's general manager for bicycle development. "The first was Cadel Evans."
On Nov. 12, BMC signed Evans, the Australian who is the current World professional Road Champion, to a three-year contract. Evans finished second in both the 2007 and 2008 Tours de France.
"The second reason is Alessandro Ballan," Selvig said.
On Sept. 1, BMC signed Ballan, an Italian who is the 2008 World Racing Champion.