Kenda/5-hour Energy announced its team for the Amgen Tour of California, held from May 15-22. Directeur Sportif Frankie Andreu selected the eight-man team that will be led by Australia’s Ben Day.
The team also includes Chad Hartley, Jake Rytlewski, Jim Stemper, Luca Damiani, Phil Gaimon, Roman Kilun and Shawn Milne. Andreu selected the team based on riders' previous experience in racing the eight-stage event along with individual ability to climb and time trial, two disciplines that will play a key factor in this year’s route selection.
“While he always consults me, he had the reigns on this one,” said Chad Thompson, team manager. “But, the team balance we chose was to lean toward climbers and a team that can succeed in the mountainous event. We have a bit of everything on this team with sprinters, all-rounders, climbers and time trialists but with the ambition of keeping our goals realistic at the Tour of California, we opted for strong support for Ben and Phil to reach their goals while contending at the tour.”
“We have a bit of Tour of California experience on the team,” he said.
“Day obviously has the most, followed by Kilun and Milne. It did weigh in Frankie's decision a bit, but we do have a rider or two that has done it, who will not be attending this year. They are all good enough, but we needed the right mix to help support Ben in a true race of attrition. He has been top ten before, and nearly won stages on two separate occasions.”
Day, who recently won the San Dimas Stage Race, is a proven top ten contender at the Tour of California, placing eighth in 2007 edition while racing for the now disbanded US team Toyota United. Thompson is confident that his team will be capable of a strong performance in the overall classification and in animating each stage.
“We are very confident from a domestic team level to participate in America's greatest event,” Thompson said. “Our entire roster is filled with the best domestic riders available. We obviously have a few riders that are a peg above that level and even others that really belong on the ProTeam platform.”
“All-in-all, Frankie's selection made sense to me, and to our team's leaders for the event,” he added. “Most of them proved themselves at San Dimas and Redlands. Our goals are not lofty and surely obtainable if we remain healthy and ride to our true abilities. Look for us to be active.
“We are not going to this event to disappear in the groupetto and barley make time cuts. We want to show AEG that they made a very sound choice in us. So, our goals were set to be achievable and establish confidence among the riders to meet the objectives.”