Boels Dolmans will not travel to the US to defend Anna van der Breggen's title at the women's Tour of California in May. The team cited two reasons for the decision; being short of riders during a time of the season when Women's WorldTour stage races overlap, particularly after Lizzie Deignan announced that she was pregnant and would be putting her cycling career on hold.
"With the temporary leave of Lizzie, we are left with only ten riders for 2018," Boels Dolmans press officer Jeanine Laudy told Cyclingnews. "We definitely regret not being able to race the Amgen Tour of California, of which we hold fond memories."
Van der Breggen won the 2017 overall title by one second ahead of UnitedHealthcare's Katie Hall after taking a bonus seconds at an intermediate sprint on the final stage.
Organisers of the Amgen Tour of California Women's Race empowered by SRAM announced the 15 teams that will participate in the event on Thursday. The three-day race is part of the 2018 Women's WorldTour and the world ranking determines which teams participate in the series.
Organisers are obliged to invite the top 15 ranked UCI Women's Teams and must accept entries from these teams that have responded positively to an invitation. After that, they can extend invitations to two national teams (one from the country hosting the event and one invitation to a foreign national team), and the remaining teams must be UCI Women's Teams.
Some of the world's top-15 ranked elite women's teams will be participating including Sunweb, Canyon-SRAM, Wiggle High5 and Astana Women.
But there are a handful of teams missing that include Boels Dolmans, Mitchelton-Scott, Cylance Pro Cycling, Ale Cipollini, Cervelo Bigla, Waowdeals Pro Cycling, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, BTC Ljubljana, Hitec Products and Team Virtu.
This year, the Women's WorldTour sees an overlap of two key stage races: Tour of California (May 17-19) and the long-running Emakumeen Bira (May 19-22), which is a new addition to the series.
"With two Women's WorldTour races that are run simultaneously, we had to make a choice between California and the Emakumeen Bira," Laudy told Cyclingnews.
"We opted for Europe over the US. But it's not a decision we made lightly, as we have loved racing in California for the past two years."
Van der Breggen, who won the Women's WorldTour title last year, has had a stellar season so far winning Strade Bianche and Tour of Flanders. The Dutchwoman is also a two-time winner of the Giro Rosa, a race she will once again target in July along with the World Championships in Austria in September.
Boels Dolmans 2018 roster includes former Tour of California winner Megan Guarnier, who will return to the event with the US national team.