Pro Continental Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis did not receive the invitation it was hoping for to participate in this year's Giro d'Italia and will now focus solely on its goal of winning the Amgen Tour of California held from May 15-22. Team co-founder Phil Southerland will apply for an upgrade to UCI ProTeam status in order to ensure a place in next year's Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.
"We were hoping that the Giro d'Italia would give us an opportunity to show our talent as a team so that we could get the invitation to the Tour de France in 2012," Southerland told Cyclingnews. "Now we are just putting all our eggs into applying for a ProTeam license so that we automatically get the invitations to all the major races."
"On one hand, it is frustrating not to be at the Giro d'Italia this year but on the other hand, should we get the ProTeam license, it will be very reassuring to know our entire calendar for next year this November, at least for the major cycling events," he said. "We will have to make some additions to the team both on a management side and riders. We will be looking for riders who are interested in competing in the big races. From an infrastructure perspective we are ready to make that jump."
Giro d'Italia organizers, RCS Sport, recently announced the participation of the 18 ProTeams along with five Professional Continental teams that are either Italy-registered or have Italian sponsors, Acqua & Sapone, Androni Giocatoli, Colnago-CSF, Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli and Geox-TMC. The UCI allowed race organizers to extend the 200 rider limit and invite one additional team in light of Italy's 150th anniversary as a unified country.
"We are a little disappointed but not surprised because we knew that Angelo Zomegnan had to invite 18 ProTeams and once the new regulations came out for the World Tour and Grand Tours, we knew that our chances were slim because of all the phenomenal Italian teams out there and his desire to grow Italian cycling, which I respect."
Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis will turn its sole attention to the UCI 2.HC Amgen Tour of California. The tentative roster includes Laszlo Bodrogi, Rubens Bertogliati, Alexander Efimkin, Aldo Ino Ilesic, Daniele Callegarin, Andrea Grendene, Javier Megias, Valeriy Kobzarenko, Kiel Reijnen, Alessandro Bazzana, Fabio Calabria, Alexey Shmidt, Jure Kocjan and Martijn Verschoor. The final eight-man team will be decided on a later date.
"Not being invited to the Giro has allowed us to focus 100 percent on the Amgen Tour of California," Southerland said. "We have Efimkin, Bodrogi, Bertogliati, Kocjan and three or four other guys so we will be lining up for the first time ever with the goal of winning the Tour of California. It will be tough but the team we have and our motivation for the month of May, it will be a great opportunity."
Southerland believes his team will excel in the stage six time time trial located in Solvang and on the two mountaintop finishes in stage four on Sierra Road and stage seven on Mt Baldy. "We have some guys who are good time trialists. Sierra Road and Mt Baldy will definitely shake things up.
We will rely on the entire team to take care of Efimkin so that he can be at his best when we hit Mt Baldy."
Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis recently finished two riders inside the top twenty at the Montepaschi Strade Bianche with Jure Kocjan placing fourth and Rubens Bertogliati placing twentieth.