By Kirsten Robbins
Reigning US national criterium champion Rahsaan Bahati had a wrench thrown into his 2009 season plans when he learned recently that he had been removed from the Rock Racing Continental team and placed onto the roster of its amateur counterpart.
"At this point, it means that I won't be able to participate in certain races up until June, and that's hard because I use them to prepare for the end of the season important races," Bahati told Cyclingnews.
"It definitely adds a twist into the season, that's for sure." As an amateur rider, Bahati will be unable to participate in UCI-sanctioned events or races that require the rider to be registered with a UCI trade team, such as the Tour of California or the Tour of Missouri.
More importantly, as an amateur rider he will not be eligible to defend his title in the elite US national criterium championships. USA Cycling released the 2009 Continental team rosters with a regulatory limit of 17 riders maximum per team.
Rock Racing contracted 27 riders for the next year, so jaws dropped when the names of ten riders were found to have been transferred to the amateur team. Riders like Bahati along with heavy hitters Chris Baldwin, Glen Chadwick, Cesar Grajales, Caleb Manion and Michael Creed were all reduced to amateur status.
"At this time there is so much going on that I don't want to speak too much about it yet," Bahati said. "I'm a little out of the loop right now on the subject. I don't know if I'm under reacting or if everyone else is over reacting. I still feel comfortable with Michael [Ball] and my relationship."