Tour of California confirms George Bennett, Kittel, van Garderen for 2019 race

Full team announcement expected Thursday

The Amgen Tour of California will release the complete list of teams for its 2019 men's and women's races on Thursday, but organisers of the US WorldTour race have used their local media accounts to leak a few of the teams and riders who will compete at the May races.

Jumbo-Visma's George Bennett, who won the race in 2017 but did not defend his title last year, will return with the Dutch team this year to try and claim another title. His American teammate Sepp Kuss previously told Cyclingnews that he will be joining Bennett on the start line May 12 in Sacramento.

The race also revealed that Tejay van Garderen, who won the race in 2013 and was second last year to Team Sky's Egan Bernal, will return to California this year with his new team EF Education First. Van Garderen's new teammate Dani Martinez was third overall last year, although he told Cyclingnews in Colombia last month that he won't return to California this year.

German sprinter Marcel Kittel, who won a stage of the Tour of California in 2017, will return this year with his Katusha-Alpecin team, which also features American Ian Boswell. 

Three-time world champion Peter Sagan, who holds the record for California stage wins, is also expected with his Bora-Hansgrohe team, but his participation has not yet been confirmed. Likewise, Mark Cavendish, who counts eight California stage wins among his palmares, is expected to return but has not yet been confirmed.

Bernal has already announced he will not return to the race this year to defend his title, choosing instead to lead Team Sky at the Giro d'Italia. His teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart finished fifth overall last year, but the young Brit is also hoping to compete in the Giro this year.

Trek-Segafredo's Richie Porte has indicated he could compete in the California for the first time this year, and the team's California resident Pete Stetina is a regular at the race. Trek-Segafredo's Toms Skujins has won three stages in California. Rohan Dennis, who was second in 2016 when he rode for BMC Racing, has also indicated he plans to return to the race this year with Bahrain-Merida.

Among the women's teams, race organisers conformed Tayler Wiles, second last year to UnitedHelthacre's Katie Hall, will return to the race with new Trek-Segafredo team. Kendall Ryan (Tibco-SVB), who won a stage in 2018, will be on the start line in her hometown of Ventura on May 16.

The 2017 and 2018 Tour of California Women's Race featured a US national team on the start lists, and as the host country USA Cycling could field a national team for the men as well, although the race and the US governing body have so far chosen not to do so. Riders on the composite US team would have to come from trade teams that are not already in the race, which means any potential roster would likely be limited to riders from US Continental teams.

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