Megan Guarnier, who races for the trade team Boels Dolmans, will lead the USA Cycling Team at the Tour of California Women's Race in a bid to win a second overall title. USA Cycling announced a team roster on Tuesday that also includes cyclo-cross star Katie Compton.
Joining Guarnier and Compton are Skylar Schneider (Boels Dolmans), Christina Birch, Samantha Schneider (ISCorp) and Jennifer Wheeler.
"We are really excited to field such a competitive team and have the red, white and blue proudly represented within the Amgen Tour of California," said Scott Schnitzspahn, USA Cycling Vice President of Elite Athletics, in a press release. "To have our USA Cycling Team compete at this level in America's highest profile race is truly an honor."
The Tour of California Women's Race was reduced to three days this year but will still cover challenging terrain that includes a flat, fast stage in and out of Elk Grove on May 17, the Queen Stage in South Lake Tahoe on May 18, and a technical circuit around the State Capitol in Sacramento on May 19.
"It doesn't get much better than representing the USA Cycling Team on the largest women's cycling stage in America," said Kristin Armstrong, USA Cycling Endurance Performance Director and a two-time winner of the Amgen Tour of California's Individual Time Trial.
"USA Cycling is excited to bring together a team of women from several different disciplines in support of one goal, to help Megan Guarnier bring home the yellow jersey on home turf just as she did in 2016.
"We are able to help support some of our top riders, like Katie Compton as she jump starts her training, plus bring new challenges in for riders who have recently been identified as new talent for our women's track endurance program. It is a win-win all the way around," Armstrong continued.
"I look forward to following along and being part of an amazing experience for all."
The Tour of California Women's Race is part of the Women's WorldTour and will include some of the top international and American women's elite teams. The 15 participating teams were announced in early April.
Guarnier claimed the overall victory in the 2016 edition, taking home the yellow jersey in her home state. She also won stage 1 last year in Lake Tahoe.
Although her Boels Dolmans teammate Anna van der Breggen won the title in 2017, the trade team will not be competing in the race this year. They have decided to compete in Spain's Emakumeen Bira, which overlaps by one day with the California race.
"I am excited to start for the USA Cycling Team at this year's Amgen Tour of California," said Guarnier, a three-time US national champion. "It's my home race and always an amazing event, and I'm proud to be able to support cycling in America."
Guarnier had an injury-marred 2017 season that started with a concussion and ended with a broken jaw. However, she has slowly bounced back with strong finishes in the Ardennes Classics.
Compton, who has won the past 14 consecutive USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, will join the USA Cycling Team squad on the road for the California race. She is one of the most accomplished all-around riders; she won silver in this year's UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships after winning the national title, and she recently participated in the USA Cycling Talent ID Camp in Colorado Springs, where she focused on track cycling.
"Being part of the USA Cycling Team for Tour of California is a huge honor and one I'm looking forward to," Compton said. "It's the biggest road race I'll do all year, and I'm excited to race on a team of talented and strong women. I'm happy that the USA Cycling Team has provided me an opportunity to take part in a race that I wouldn't have the option to do otherwise. The racing is going to be really hard and a big challenge for me, but I cannot think of a better way to jump start my preparation for 'cross season."
Sisters Skylar and Samantha Schneider both return to the Tour of California to race for the USA Cycling Team for a second consecutive year. Rounding out the roster are two cyclists who joined Compton at the Talent ID Camp in March - Birch and Wheeler. Birch also competed for the USA Cycling Team in the Scratch Race at the 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.