Cycling is filled with life lessons.
the Bontrager-Livestrong Development squad is a team to watch in U-23 races, this selection is quite the step beyond. I have a feeling that Merxkx is leading his lambs to the slaughter - but hey - they'll get the Livestrong brand out there.
As you might be guessing by now, what a team may or may not bring to the Tour of California table from a non-sporting standpoint is also equally important. That certain something isn't calculated in UCI points - it's cash money - aka sponsorship activation. Sponsorship activation is marketing terminology for "sponsor the race with a booth in the expo or a VIP area."
One team that didn't activate was Team Type 1 - Sanofi.
In an interview with Cyclingnews, Phil Southerland said that they were not invited to California because they did not "activate" on a sponsorship proposal by race organizer AEG. AEG doesn't deny that they offered a sponsorship to Team Type 1, but they say that it wasn't contingent on their admittance to America's biggest stage race. As mentioned in the article, Team Type 1 was always an "on the bubble team" for selection. This year it popped.
In a press release team owner Phil Southerland said, "We are shocked and disappointed. So far this season we are the most successful Professional Continental team in the United States, with a deep race program that goes around the world."
The excellent blog, Inrng, also pointed out that Sanofi is a French pharmaceutical company in direct competition with Amgen. So yeah, that is awkward.
Kenda/5 Hour Energy presented by Geargrinder was also flicked, even as they continue to rack up domestic victories. It's these teams with smaller budgets that I hope can ride out the rejection from AEG. Team manager Chad Thompson told Cyclingnews that he had a sponsor lined up if they secured an invite. Now, not so much...
And as much as we like things to be fair in the world, they just aren't. Families get hosed by bad investments losing everything they own. Mother Nature unleashes and destroys towns. It's horrible and in comparison to a bunch of guys riding their bikes in California, much more devastating. Regardless, from a sporting standpoint I'm disappointed that Kenda isn't invited - they deserved a shot.
Disappointment comes in the form of race finishes too. This past Sunday the first one-day classic of the year rolled out from Milan and finished in San Remo ( race video highlights ). On the climb of the Poggio, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) attacked with Simon Gerrans (Greenedge). Bridging across like a locomotive was Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan). From there Cancellara gave a 10 kilometer leadout to the finish line. Sure Gerrans did a half-assed pull at the front - once- but I think that was more of an opportunity to peer into Fabs eyes and see if the Swiss rider had the spark to finish the sprint off.
As Gerrans crossed the finish line the criticism started. The Australian deserved none of that - it just showed how those who were criticizing knew