Colombian UCI Continental team Movistar will not be attending the Amgen Tour of Calfornia, race organizer AEG Sports told VeloNews Monday.
AEG Sports president Andrew Messick said the team had declined its invitation “in the last few weeks,” meaning there will be 18 teams, rather than 19, at the race’s start in South Lake Tahoe on May 15.
“I think the logistics were too hard for them, as a South American team traveling to North America,” Messick said. “That’s what they told us, the logistics were too tough to coordinate, and that they were not able to make the trip.”
Movistar’s attendance at the race was the unexpected byproduct of a new UCI rule, set forth in late January, demanding that non-European events invite their regions’ top teams.
For the U.S., the region falls under the UCI’s America Tour, meaning three Colombian squads merited invites to the U.S.’s biggest races based on points obtained in 2010 by the best riders among the team’s 2011 members.
The rule came to a surprise to AEG Sports; days before the rule was announced in January, Messick had told VeloNews, “No one from UCI has communicated this to us. 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.”
Subsequent conversations with the UCI led to an agreement that AEG Sports would invite the America Tour’s top team, Movistar, to the Amgen Tour.
The Movistar team is the UCI Continental branch of the ProTeam Movistar (formerly Caisse D’Epargne.) The team is composed of 15 Latin Americans riders from eight countries — Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Panamá and Uruguay. The team has claimed victory in several national tours, including the Tour of Ecuador, Tour of Bolivia, Tour of Venezuela, and the Tour of Costa Rica. The team also won the overall title at the Tour of Langkawi in 2002 and 2004.
“We welcomed them. I was looking forward to having them in the race, and looking forward to seeing how they did,” Messick said. “We’re sad they made that decision but ultimately it’s up to them, it was their decision.”