Cyclingnews understands that Rally Cycling and Jelly Belly-Maxxis will be among the teams named to the starting list for the 2017 Tour of California, the race's first year on the UCI's WorldTour calendar.
Multiple sources, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorised to speak on the issue, told Cyclingnews the two long-time US Continental teams have been selected for the 16-team field, although Michael Roth, a spokesman for race owner AEG, declined to comment before the official announcement on Thursday.
Rally Cycling director Jonas Carney also declined to comment on whether his team has been selected, while Jelly Belly-Maxxis director Danny Van Haute could not be reached for comment. Axeon Hagens Berman director Axel Merckx and Holowesko-Citadel director Thomas Craven each confirmed to Cyclingnews that AEG had informed them they would not be invited to the race this year.
The question of participation in the Tour of California among Continental teams has been an issue since last fall, when the UCI announced the race would jump from 2.HC status to the WorldTour, a category normally reserved for WorldTour and Pro Continental teams.
Exceptions to the rules requiring all 18 WorldTour teams to participate were altered for the 10 new WorldTour races that were added this year, however, with new events allowed fields with as few as 10 WorldTour squads, opening up the possibility that Continental teams could get in and prompting speculation about which teams would be included.
Participation in the country's biggest race has become lifeblood for many of the upper-echelon US Continental teams, which rely on the exposure the race provides to draw and keep sponsors. Among the 10 Continental teams currently registered in the US, Rally Cycling, Jelly Belly-Maxxis, Axeon Hagens Berman and Holowesko-Citadel are the only ones with a history of participation in the California race.
Pro Continental and WorldTour teams
Among the Pro Continental ranks, US-registered teams UnitedHealthcare and Novo Nordisk are likely participants and have history with the race.
Expect to see US WorldTour teams BMC Racing, Cannondale-Drapac and Trek-Segafredo on the start list, as well the German Bora-Hansgrohe team of Tour of California stage-win-record-holder Peter Sagan, nicknamed the 'King of California'.
Other WorldTour teams with the Tour of California posted in the calendar section of their official websites include Team Sky, AG2R La Mondiale, Astana, Quick-Step Floors, Katusha-Alpecin and UAE Team Emirates.
Teams that have calendars through May that don't mention the Tour of California include Bahrain-Merida, Lotto Soudal and Movistar. Teams without calendars include Dimension Data, FDJ, Orica-Scott, LottoNL-Jumbo and Team Sunweb. Of those final five, LottoNL-Jumbo and team Sunweb have the most history with the race, with LottoNL-Jumbo's Robert Gesink having won the overall in 2012.
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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