Thursday, January 18, 2007

Some Got In and Some Didn't

I'm sure you've seen that the Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) announced the final team selections the other day. Sadly for local heroes Cody O'Reilly and Daniel Ramsey, neither Kodak-SierraNevada nor were selected. I'm quite curious about the selection process, and I wonder how much back-room negotiating goes on for this. Getting into this race must be a huge deal for the smaller North American teams, and I wonder to what extent the promoter exploits that fact.

And then there are some strange selections... Remember that last year the ATOC chose the Mexican National Team to ride, and excluded Symmetrics. That seemed like a bizarre choice, and no offense the the Mexican team, but they were otb in nearly every stage and all but three of them DNF'ed. Let's see if this year's no-hope selection--the US Development Team--does better, or at least gets into some of the action.

Anyway, talking to Cody today, he expressed mixed feelings about not getting in. On the one hand, what an incredible experience to race such a high-profile event, particularly since it comes through home-town Santa Barbara again this year. On the other hand, it would be freakin hard, and the kid is just 18 years old. Could he really recover in time for the NRC races starting just a week later? Or more significantly, what would a race like ATOC do to his track speed?

BTW, Cody and his USA National Team partner Austin Carroll raced to a very successful 3rd place in the recent Burnaby six-day race in Canada. The picture below shows Cody throwing his partner into the action in the madison.


One team that did get into the ATOC is Northern California based BMC Racing. We may not have heard much about this relatively new US domestic pro team, but given the quality of their roster, I'm sure soon we will. Top riders include Swiss Alexandre Moos, US veterans Mike Sayers and Scott Moninger, and rising star Jackson Stewart.

Gavin Chilcott started the team last year as a young-rider development program. This year marks a huge escalation with backing from Andy Rihs, the former owner of the Phonak Pro Tour team. On paper, they look like the team to beat in the domestic stage races.

Of local interest, the BMC Tour of California squad will be training in the Santa Ynez Valley for the next ten days. Gavin emailed me yesterday soliciting suggestions for ride routes. I've known Gavin since we raced together as juniors a long time ago, and he knows that I know the area. Naturally, I told him about all the great rides--the canyons loop, Fig loop, Jalama, and down to SB for Gib and OSM/Painted Cave. Of course, since they are looking for six-hour epic adventures, they'll need to hook together two or three of those options!


More Chilcott... You may not have heard of him, but Gavin was once a very successful bike racer and was one of the early American professionals in Europe. In the mid 1980's, he raced a bunch of the spring classics (Paris-Roubaix, etc.) and I think he also represented the US at the Pro worlds once or twice. When back in the US, he could hold his own against the top domestic teams. Interestingly, some time in the 80's, there was a very high-level crit held downtown on State St. in SB and all the top US riders came to race. This included 7-Eleven, Levi's-Raleigh, etc., and old Gavin showed up solo. He got into a four-man break that included Andy Hampsten among others, and they lapped the field. Gavin then beat his break partners in the sprint and won the race. Pretty remarkable considering he was racing solo against complete teams of the best American crit riders. The picture below is from that race. Gavin is closest to the camera and that is Andy Hampsten to his left.

Anyway, by the late 80's he decided it was time to move on, so he quit bike racing and returned to school and eventually completed a PhD in some science field. Then, around 2002 or so, I ran across my old friend Ben Standish at a race in Reno and he mentioned that he and Gavin were neighbors and starting to ride again. Lo and behold the next year, Gavin started doing some Masters races. Within a year he was easily crushing the field and even winning some p/1/2 races. But I guess he's been there and done that, so he made the jump to running a team.

And that's your history lesson for today.

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