Last week, I received an inquiry from a loyal reader asking when the teams will be announced for the eleventh edition of the Amgen Tour of California. Since the teams were revealed at the beginning of last month, the question made me think that this column should review the 18 professional men’s squads comprised of World, National and Grand Tour champions that made selection for the nearly 800-mile, 8-day stage race starting May 15 for the first time in San Diego on a south-to-north trek through the Golden State.
In addition to showcasing world and national champions, Olympic medalists and Grand Tour stage winners, the Amgen Tour of California also provides a platform for developing professionals to breakthrough to the next level. Two riders who made strong impressions during the 10th anniversary edition of America’s Greatest Race, Toms Skujiņš and Logan Owen, are in the spotlight this week.
Forty-eight hours after winning the Tour of Qatar, Mark Cavendish was back home in England spending Valentine’s Day with his wife, Peta Todd. As the couple drove through the Tottenham Hale section north of London, they came upon a female cyclist stranded at the side of the road struggling with cold hands to change a flat tire. The former UCI World Champion and multi-time Amgen Tour of California stage winner hopped out of the car, popped out the deflated front wheel and changed the tire for her. The gentlemanly gesture capped an eventful week for the Manx Missile. On Friday, Cav earned a time bonus for his second place finish on stage 5 that enabled him to retain the yellow jersey on his shoulders as the GC winner. He won the opening stage, gave up the jersey after Wednesday’s stage 3 individual time trial to his Dimension Data teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen and took it back for good on Thursday after Boasson Hagen suffered a rare double puncture in the final 10km of Stage 4. It wasn’t the way he wanted to win the overall, which he felt belonged to his Norwegian teammate, but Cavendish proved himself to be a classy champion – both in and out of competition.