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Owner hoped social responsibility, clean riders, results would secure entry
The Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling team was surprised that it did not receive an invitation to the Tour of California in May despite the strong start to its inaugural year. Team co-owner Rahsaan Bahati, who also rides for the team, admitted to being disappointed with the news.
“It was definitely a surprise and a bummer,” said Bahati. “I thought that given the program that we have, when it comes to social responsibility, that would be very attractive to the Amgen Tour of California. Having a good roster was a bonus so it was very surprising not to get an invite.”
The former USPro Criterium Champion built his professional cycling team as a vehicle to spread awareness about the Bahati Foundation. Bahati created the Los Angeles-based organisation to help underprivileged inner-city children through the sport of cycling, education and music.
“Even though we’re not in the Tour of California we still have to fulfill our obligations to give scholarships, grants and public speeches, we have to do those with or without the Tour of California,” he added. “Doing that race would have definitely helped our exposure and get the Bahati Foundation name out in a quicker time period and would have catapulted our efforts.”
The 20-man team was bolstered by the signing of ProTour riders Hilton Clarke and Jason Donald, eight-time Australian National Time Trial Champion Nathan O’Neill and Floyd Landis. Bahati hoped the strong roster he put together would help garner an invitation to the prestigious event.
“I have no clue why we were not invited,” Bahati said. “We are a new team so maybe that had something to do with it. We are a squeaky clean team and that made it all the more surprising. We had communication and talks with the people at the Amgen Tour of California and it was looking good, so I’m not sure what happened. I don’t look at it as a setback though, we just have to look forward to next year and the next races.”
International Cycling Union (UCI) Continental teams invited to compete in the eight-staged race include Fly V Australia, Team Type 1, UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis , Jelly Belly-Kenda, Kelly Benefit Strategies, SpiderTech-Planet Energy and Bissell.
The Bahati Foundation squad has enjoyed a successful start to the season, having swept the podium at the Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic’s downtown criterium and won criteriums at the San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands Bicycle Classic.
“Already we have a total of about 20 wins,” Bahati said. “The team is doing great and for a first-year team, with guys that haven’t raced together; they are on the right track to have a very successful season.”
The Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team will next compete at Dana Point Grand Prix, USA CRIT Speed Week Series, Tour of the Gila and Joe Martin Stage Race.