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26 rider team limits global reach of British team
Team Sky senior directeur sportif Scott Sunderland has confirmed that the new British ProTour team will not take part in this year's Tour of California.
Race organisers AEG unveiled details of the first two stages on Tuesday and said that Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack), Dave Zabriskie (Garmin), George Hincapie (BMC), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) are all expected to take part this year.
However Team Sky will not be in Nevada City for the start of the race on May 16.
The team has yet to secure an invitation to the Tour de France and so has to target success in Europe and especially races run by ASO, who organize the Tour de France.
"We haven't asked for an invitation for California and they haven't offered us one. We made the decision for this year because we simply can't do it with the team we have," Sunderland told Cyclingnews at the Tour of Qatar on Tuesday.
"The rest of the season is pretty much as people would expect. The Tour of California was the only race which was logistically difficult for us to do."
"It was a purely performance driven decision. We'd have love to ride it and we looked at it carefully but with only 26 riders in the team, with the programme we've chosen and with the obligations we've got to certain races as a new team, it just wasn't possible."
Team Sky is targeting the Spring Classics in April with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thomas Lovkvist. Then team leader Bradley Wiggins will ride the Giro d'Italia before hopefully challenging for overall success at the Tour de France in July.
The complete roster of teams and riders for the Tour of California is expected to be announced in the next few weeks. As in previous editions, half of the field is likely to be major ProTour teams, with the rest of the field made up of US-based teams.
After being held in February for the last four years, the Tour of California will be held between May 16-23 in 2010.