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Tom Zirbel showed he had lost little of his time trialing prowess at the Tour de Gruene.
Time trial specialist to start Amgen Tour of California?
Jamis-Sutter Home announced today that it has signed Tom Zirbel for the remainder of the 2011 season. The time trial specialist will participate in a full National Racing Calendar (NRC) with the team and might be eligible to start the UCI 2.HC Amgen Tour of California from May 15-22.
"I am very excited to join the Jamis/Sutter Home squad," said Zirbel in a press release. "I have tremendous respect for DS Sebastian Alexandre and appreciate the support that Jamis and Sutter Home have been providing to the sport for so many years."
Zirbel could be a candidate to compete in the Amgen Tour of California, having placed in the top ten in the event’s time trial in 2008 and 2009.
Race organizers, AEG Sports, announced a rigorous anti-doping protocol in February. The protocol required teams to present a preliminary roster of 12 riders that were added to the anti-doping testing pool on February 15. Those riders were to be tested for 90 days prior to the event’s start date on May 15. Team management were then required to select a final roster of eight riders from the original 12 riders registered in the testing pool.
However, AEG President Andrew Messick said he would handle requests to add riders to team rosters after the February 15 deadline on a case-by-case basis. According to Alexandre there is a possibility that Zirbel might be permitted to start the race, however, that will not be confirmed until a later date.
"Tom is recognized as one of the best time trialists in the world," said Alexandre. "We are very excited that he will be riding in Jamis/Sutter Home colors this season."
The US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) gave Zirbel a two-year suspension after he tested positive for Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) at the US Pro Championships on August 29, 2009. USADA reduced his suspension by six months, ending on March 21, 2011, for helping the agency in two separate anti-doping cases. He maintains that he did not knowingly ingest the banned substance.
Zirbel was a member of the UCI Continental team Bissell during the 2008 and 2009. He signed a contract to race under the ProTeam Garmin-Transitions, now Garmin-Cervelo, in 2010, however, his contract was terminated upon notice of his positive test.
While serving his suspension, Zirbel won the time trial at the non-USA Cycling sanctioned event Tour de Gruene held in Texas, where he broke Lance Armstrong’s course record. He recently won the Louisville Criterium and placed fourth in the Mead-Roubaix Road Race, both held in Colorado.
Zirbel is currently competing in his first NRC event of the season at the SRAM Tour of the Gila with the Hotel San Jose-ACME team, where he placed 23rd in the opening stage from Silver City to Mogollon and had a top five performance at the stage three Tyrone Time Trial. He went into the time trial as one of the favourites having one the event in 2008.