USA Cycling selects team for Tour of California

USA Cycling has chosen the riders who will represent the US national team at the upcoming Amgen Tour of California, with veteran sprinter Travis McCabe (Floyd's Pro Cycling) leading the seven-rider roster.

Lining up with McCabe when the seven-day race starts May 12 in Sacremento will be Aevolo's Tyler Stites, Alex Hoen and Michael Hernandez, McCabe's Floy'd Pro Cycling teammate Keegan Swirbul, Wildlife Generation-Maxxis' Sam Boardman and Arapahoe-Hincapie's Miguel Bryon.

This year marks the first time since the inaugural race in 2006 that Tour of California organisers AEG have invited a US national team, which is allowed under UCI regulations that provide host countries of WorldTour races the opportunity to give a spot to the home team.

Riders whose WorldTour trade teams or Pro Continental trade teams are competing in the race are not eligible for the national team, limiting the USA Cycling roster options to mostly riders from the Continental and amateur domestic elite ranks. The US national team will join 13 WorldTour and five ProContinental squads in the 2019 race.

McCabe, 29, will be the oldest and most experienced rider on the team, having notched nine wins in races ranked UCI 2.1 and above, most recently winning a stage and leading the Tour of Langkawi in China. McCabe has raced the Tour of California four times with three different teams. His best performance came in 2016 with Holowesko-Citadel when he scored three top-10 finishes, including seventh on stage 7 to Santa Rosa.

McCabe has also won four stages at the Tour of Utah, stages at the Colorado Classic and Herald Sun Tour, and two more stages in Langkawi in 2017. As part of the SmartStop team in 2014, McCabe was second in the US Pro Road Race to teammate Eric Marcotte, and he won the US criterium championship in 2017 with UnitedHealthcare.

McCabe is a likely candidate for the flat stages with bunch kicks, but both Bryon and Hernandez also have fast finishes. Hernandez is in his third year with the Aevolo development team run by Michael Creed, who will direct the US national team alongside Mike Sayers. Bryon has raced with the different iterations of the Hincapie-run team since 2014. Bryon is the only rider on the roster other than Mccabe with Tour of California experience, having finished fifth on stage 7 last year during his only appearance.

Swirbul, who previously rode for Jelly Belly-Maxxis, BMC Development Team and Axeon, has never raced the the Tour of California but he has gained considerable international experience over the past several seasons. The former mountain biker known for his climbing prowess finished second overall at Tour of Langkawi earlier this month after finishing third on the infamous Genting Highlands queen stage. He was seventh overall last year at the Tour of Utah.

Hoehn, who rode for Elevate-KHS in 2017 and Aevolo last year, is the reigning U23 road race champion and was recently third overall at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas. Stites, also in his third season with Aevolo, was recently seventh overall at Joe Martin, while Boardman is in his first year on the Continental level with the new Wildlife Generation team run by former Jelly Belly manager Danny Van Haute.

Tanner Putt (Arapahoe-Hincapie), Brendan Rhim (Arapahoe-Hincapie) and Justin Williams (Legion Los Angeles) were on the long list under consideration for the team that USA Cycling announced earlier this month, but they but did not make the final selection.

The 2019 Tour of California starts Sunday, May 12, with a sprinters' stage in Sacramento. The riders will need their climbing legs on stage 2, a long uphill trek to South Lake Tahoe. Stages 3, 4 and 5 are difficult but have finishes suited for breakaways or reduced-bunch sprints.

The Queen stage on the penultimate day takes the riders to the summit of Mt. Baldy. The final stage on Saturday, May 18, is another tough stage to Pasadena, where the race concludes with several quick laps around the Rose Bowl.

USA Cycling national team for Tour of California: Sam Boardman, Miguel Bryon, Michael Hernandez, Alex Hoehn, Travis McCabe, Tyler Stites, Keegan Swirbul

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