UCI (Union Cycliste International) Pro Tour
The 2005 Pro Tour Team Champion, Team CSC is managed by former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis and sponsored by California-based CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation). The 2005 spring season was the strongest ever for Team CSC, with a number of high profile wins by American Bobby Julich and Jens Voight (GER), in particular Juilch’s win Paris-Nice. With his victory in Paris-Nice, Bobby Julich became the first ever rider to wear the UCI ProTour leaders jersey. American David Zabriskie won the Prologue of the 2005 Tour de France and became the third American ever to wear the Yellow Jersey (after Lemond and Armstrong). Julich, Voight and Zabriskie are all on CSC’s roster for the Amgen Tour of California and should all have an influence on the outcome of the inaugural race.
Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team is the team of retired 7-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. In 2005, the Discovery won two cycling’s three Grand Tours: The Tour de France with Lance Armstrong and the Giro d’Italia with Paolo Savoldelli. Along with Savoldelli, (ITA) American George Hincapie (winner, stage 10, 2005 Tour de France) and precocious climbing talent Tom Danielson (winner, 2005 Tour de Georgia) are expected to be major contenders in the Amgen Tour of California.
Sixth place in last year’s Tour de France and winner of the Tour of Germany, Santa Rosa resident Levi Leipheimer leads Team Gerolsteiner along with 2005 San Francisco Grand Prix winner Fabian Wegmann, Motivated to win in his hometown, Leipheimer will be looking to wear the Amgen Leaders Jersey in Santa Rosa on Stages 1 and 2 and hopes to hold it all the way to Redondo Beach. Gerolsteiner, a German team, is sponsored by the mineral water company Gerolsteiner Brunnen and Specialized Bicycles of Morgan HIll, CA.
The second ranked team on the UCI Pro Tour, Phonak Hearing Systems will be led by Floyd Landis at the Amgen Tour of California. A resident of Temecula, CA Landis was ninth place in the 2005 Tour de France. Joining Landis on this Swiss squad is young American hopeful Patrick McCarty and South African sprinter Robert Hunter.
A strong contender for overall victory in the Amgen Tour of California, American Chris Horner (USA) and top sprinter “Fast” Freddy Rodriguez of Emeryville, CA lead the Belgian Davitamon-Lotto squad. With a strong group of international riders behind them, Horner and Rodriguez are both sharpening their early season form at the Tour of Qatar. Expect the American duo to be major players when the race starts in San Francisco on Feb. 19.
Led by three-time World Time Trial Champion Michael Rogers (AUS), T-Mobile Team of Germany comes to the Amgen Tour of California as the defending Tour de France team champions. Rogers’ talent in the race against the clock can lead him to the overall victory. One of the strongest teams on the UCI Pro Tour, the team is sponsored by telecommunications company T-Mobile and rides Giant Bicycles.
Spanish team Prodir – Saunier Duval will bring two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia to California to challenge a strong contingent of Americans. Along with American Aaron Olsen and two-time San Francisco Grand Prix winner Charles Dionne (CAN), the Prodir – Saunier Duval squad should figure prominently in the proceedings.
The French team of rising American star Saul Raisin, Credit Agricole and its long-time director Roger Legeay has a deep history in the sport of cycling. Developed out of three-time Tour de France Champion Greg Lemond’s GAN team, Credit Agricole won the team time trial in the 2001 Tour de France under the leadership of Bobby Julich (now CSC) and Jonathan Vaughters (now director, Team TIAA-CREF).
UCI Professional Contiental
Winners of the 2005 USA Cycling National Race Calendar Team and Individual (Scott Moninger), Health Net Professional Cycling presented by Maxxis is an Oakland- based team that could mount a significant challenge to the European teams. In the Amgen Tour of California. In addition to the sprinting talent of Gord Fraser and Greg Henderson, both of whom can win a field sprint on any given day, Health Net has three riders who could win the overall: One of the best riders in the world against the clock, Nathan O’Neill recently won the Australian Time Trial Championships by 3 minutes over CSC rider Luke Roberts. If his form holds, Nathan should be competitive with GC favorites like Leipheimer, Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Floyd Landis and Chris Horner. Hayden Roulston recently went to New Zealand to prepare for the ATOC and won the Trust House classic stage race in Wellington, NZ this past Sunday. Scott Moninger has the most wins of any active American racer and is always a contender when the race hits hilly terrain.
The Navigators Insurance Cycling Team is one of America’s premier professional road-cycling teams. Affiliated with the UCI and the U.S. Professional Racing Organization (USPRO since 1994, the team currently boasts several Olympians, including Sydney-2000 Olympic Gold Medalist Marty Nothstein, and many current and former National and World Champions. Look for Irish strong-man David O’Loughlin and Australian Ben Brooks to be instigators in the Amgen Tour of California.
Colavita Olive Oil – Sutter Home Wine Professional Cycling Team is managed by and led by the McCormack brothers, Frank and Mark. 2004 USPRO National Champion, Mark McCormack leads an American team with international flavor. With their Argentine sprinters and “The Belarussian Concussion” Viktor Rapinski, this team can win on any given day.
New to the scene in 2006, the Toyota – United Pro Cycling Team is one of the most talked about teams on the domestic scene. Managed by Frankie Andreu, a former rider for the United States Postal Service team who has finished nine Tours de France, this new squad will bring the 2005 USPRO National Champion Chris Wherry to lead their assault on California. With the stars-and-stripes of the USPRO National Champion in tow, the team has been eagerly preparing for their season and the Tour in Thousand Oaks, CA. In addition to Wherry, expect to see Argentine sprinting sensation Juan Jose Haedo in the mix for both stage wins and the Clif Bar sprinters jersey.
Team TIAA-CREF is the only professional cycling team in America whose sole focus is developing the youth of cycling into tomorrow’s champions. Under the guidance of former top professional Jonathan Vaughters, however, it would be a mistake to confuse youth for inexperience with this team. Boasting a roster that includes 2001 U23 World Time Trial Champion Danny Pate and former Discovery rider Mike Creed, TIAA-CREF has the talent to make waves in California.
Proudly based in Northern California, the Kodak Gallery.com/Sierra Nevada Pro Cycling Team is a team with a potent mix of local motivation, management experience and young talent. With one of America’s best ever sprinters Jonas Carney joining Kurt Stockton and Robin Zellner to help direct the team on the road, riders like San Jose native and team-leader Ben Jacques-Maynes may have a breakthrough ride in front of a home crowd.
After a preparatory training camp in Napa, the Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team comes to the Amgen Tour of California with the potential both make their mark in the mountains with talented Colorado climber Andrew Bajadali and win in field sprints with experienced sprinter Alex Candelario.
Presented KB Home, the KB Home Mexican National Team will have the honor of being the only national team in the Amgen Tour of California. A talented group of climbers and all-around riders will represent Mexico in this field of international cycling talent.