Organisers of the Tour of California announced the 18 participating teams Tuesday, and Jamis-Sutter Home was not among the five Continental teams listed. It’s not the first time that Jamis has not received an invitation to compete in the marquee US stage race, but it’s still a cause for disappointment, says team director Sebastian Alexandre.
“Everyone on our team was looking forward to being part of the biggest race in the USA, our riders, staff and sponsors,” Alexandre told Cyclingnews. “To say we are not disappointed would not be true, but we also understand the challenges the organizers have in the team selection process.”
Jamis, and their former incarnate Colavita, have participated in seven of the 10 previous editions of the race - with success. They were one of the first Continental-level teams to win a stage at the Tour of California with Janier Acevedo in 2013.
Acevedo’s success that year led to a two-year deal with Jonathan Vaughter’s Garmin team. He spent two seasons racing on the WorldTour but returned to Jamis for the 2016 season hoping to do well in the top American stage races in California, Utah and Colorado.
With Colorado’s USA Pro Challenge cancelled, the tours of California and Utah were even more important.
“For 2016, we’ve put together a very strong team for the UCI events,” Alexandre said. “With riders like Acevedo, [Eric] Marcotte and [Sebastian] Haedo, we felt we had a team that would have been selected.”
Jamis opened their season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January, and Acevedo proved to be in top climbing form, placing second on the mountaintop finish on Cerro El Amago in stage 4, and he ended up finishing eighth overall, 2:44 behind overall winner Dayer Quintana (Movistar).
“Our team performed very well at the Tour de San Luis,” Alexandre said. “Acevedo finished second in an uphill finish and [Sebastian] Haedo finished a couple times in the top 5 in the flat stages. The team always does well in these high-quality races.”
Even though Alexandre believes his team is of the caliber to perform well at the Tour of California, he understands that many Continental-level teams in the US have upped their game over the years. The Continental teams invited to compete in the Tour of California this year are Axeon Hagens Berman, Holowesko-Citadel, Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis and Rally Cycling from the US, and Team WIGGINS from Great Britain.
“Most of the UCI teams increased their level in the USA, partially due to the motivation to do races like California, Utah and Colorado,” Alexandre said. “The level has been raised through the years, and we are proud to say that we were the first UCI Continental team that ever won a stage in California [sic*]. Other teams followed us.
“Again we are very disappointed that we did not earn the invitation, but we will continue to train and participate in other UCI races in the USA.
“I can only thank our sponsors Jamis and Sutter Home for their support and their trust on our team, in every situation.”
*In 2006, the first edition of Tour of California, Juan Jose Haedo won two stages while racing for Continental team Toyota-United. In 2007, Ivan Dominguez won a stage, and in 2008, Dominique Rollin won a stage and the points classification, both also of Toyota-United. In 2009, Francisco Mancebo, racing for Continental team Rock Racing, won the first stage and wore the leader's jersey. Acevedo won his stage in 2013, and was the first Continental rider to make the final podium. Will Routley (Optum) won a stage in 2014, and Toms Skujiņš (Hincapie) won one in 2015.