US under-23 development team TIAA-CREF started a six-week stint in Europe yesterday with the first stage of the Paris-Correze race. The team has crossed the pond to prepare for the Tour de L'Avenir (September 2-11), the most important race on the calendar for under-23 riders.
The squad for the team's European tour includes Timmy Duggan, Craig Lewis, David Robinson, Stu Gillespie (second overall at Tour de la Martinique), current under-23 national champion Ian Macgregor, and climbing phenomenon Michael Lange.
After Paris-Correze, the team will tackle the Tour de L'Ain (August 7-10) which traverses the French Alps, then two major Spanish races, Subida Urkiola on August 14 and Clasica de los Puertos, August 21.
Team TIAA-CREF director, Jonathan Vaughters admits it's going to be no holiday for his riders. "These races are going to be a stretch for a team that is so young, like ours," he says. "But, we have to learn to compete with the ProTour teams if Team TIAA-CREF is truly to fulfil its mission of producing the next American champions.
"No matter how the guys do, as long as they finish, these races will be absolutely ideal preparation for Tour de L'Avenir," said Vaughters.