After clearing the up the management issues that prevented its participation last year in races with its RadioShack WorldTour parent team, Bontrager-Livestrong welcomed its invitation this week to the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.
Last season's problem stemmed from UCI code 2.2.001, which prevents teams with the same "paying agent" from participating in the same races.
Livestrong's UCI Continental team, managed under the Austin-based Capital Sports & Entertainment company that also ran RadioShack, could not race with its WorldTour counterpart in 2011. The development team had accepted invitations to August's Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge last season when the UCI determined in July that the team's participation would violate its code and the invitations were quickly rescinded.
But that issue became moot this year when RadioShack merged with Leopard-Trek in the off-season under the auspices of the Luxemburg team's ownership structure. USA Cycling Chief Operating Officer Sean Petty told Cyclingnews that the newly minted Bontrager-Livestrong Continental team is completely separate from the Radioshack-Nissan-Trek WorldTour team currently racing in Europe, clearing the way for the U23 team's invitation to the 2012 race in California.
"The RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team is a Luxemburg-based company and owned by the person who owned the Leopard-Trek team in the past," Petty said. "Also, they created their own development team. So there's a separate development team that is designated as the development team for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek. So that's a separate organization, registered in Luxemburg. The Bontrager-Livestrong team is obviously an American-registered team. Separate company. Separate paying agent. So they don't have any overlap in staff or anything else."
Petty said the UCI has approved the invitation for the Amgen Tour of California, and clearly understands that Bontrager-Livestrong is a separate entity and separate team.
"They're good to go," Petty said. "All vetted and approved by the UCI. That was important as they went into another year of this team."
Although a bit outside his purview, the management shuffling comes as good news to Ian Boswell, who at 21 is one of the elder statesman on the Livestrong team. Boswell finished third in Utah in 2010 but was unable to defend his podium placing last year when the team lost its chance to race. Now he could get a shot at all three US tours. Boswell, who was coincidentally vacationing at the AToC stage 7 finish in Big Bear when he got the news, said the invitation will be a big motivator as the season begins.
"It's great that the sponsors and (director Axel Merckx) and everybody feel like we're ready to step up and do a race like that," he said. "We have 12 riders on the team and it's an eight-rider race. We have a strong team with a lot of returning riders, so I think over the course of the next few races Axel will select the team. I think he already has a pretty general idea of who will be going to the race. But there are always a few spots that are up for grabs."