When the UCI announced Friday that its races outside of Europe would be required to invite top-ranked Continental teams, it came as a surprise to the bosses of a top U.S. stage race and Conti team. The ruling directly affects the Amgen Tour of California and the Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth team by requiring that three Colombian teams be selected for UCI events in the States.
Andrew Messick, president of AEG, the organizer behind the Amgen tour, had not heard the news before he was contacted by VeloNews. “No one from UCI has communicated this to us,” he said. “We’ve not been contacted by the UCI whatsoever. We haven’t been notified of anything, by the UCI or USAC. Until we are, we have no comment or reaction.”
Under the new rule, Messick’s event may be forced to displace American Continental teams in order to make room for the Colombian squads. Teams on the verge of entry to the event may see their chances washed away.
Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth is one Continental team vying for an invite to Amgen and the Quiznos Pro Challenge. According to director Jonas Carney, U.S. teams were not notified of this change prior to the release. Carney said that had he known about the changes earlier, the team would have placed more weight on America Tour points in its recruiting. “This doesn’t make any sense,” Carney told VeloNews.
KBS is among the strongest U.S. Continental teams ahead of the 2011 season and will likely not see an affect on its race invitations. However, Carney said that his team would have focused more on Latin American racing in 2010 had his team known about the new requirements last year.
Neal Rogers contributed to this report.