USA Cycling yesterday announced the 13 squads that have been registered as UCI Continental teams in the United States for the 2009 racing season. In addition to the previously announced Pro Continental squad [BMC Racing] and Pro Tour teams [Garmin-Chipotle & Team Columbia], the US will boast 16 professional cycling teams recognised by the sports international governing body for the 2009 racing season.
US teams receiving Continental status for 2009 include: Amore e Vita/McDonalds/Velo Vie Pro Racing Team, Bissell Pro Cycling, Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light, DLP Racing, Jelly Belly Cycling, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Spinergy, Land Rover/ORBEA - Benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation, OUCH presented by Maxxis, Team Mountain Khakis, Rock Racing, Team Type 1 and Trek LIVESTRONG U23 Team.
The addition of the Amore e Vita-McDonalds-Velo Vie team is an interesting development, as the outfit has traditionally been based in Italy, although registered in Poland, and received support from the Vatican. It will move its registration to the US and look to increase its participation in American races. It's also of particular interest for Australian rider Richard England, who recently spoke to Cyclingnews about his change from the Bissell squad to the 'Love and Life' boys, something that should suit his abilities well. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for the full chat with this 2008 Tour de Georgia stage winner.
Despite the apparent strength of the scene in the US for next season, well-documented funding issues such as the one surrounding the Tour de Georgia exist. Races and teams have found sponsorship dollars difficult to obtain, and as such many of those Continental teams announced today will operate with smaller budgets and rosters compared to previous years. That also means that riders such as Australians Hilton Clarke, Ben Day, Trent Wilson and Cody Stevenson, who have played their trade successfully in the US for several years, now face an uncertain future in a tight economic environment.