ESCONDIDO, Calif. (VN) — With all the time we domestic professional cyclists spend in airports, hotels and team vans, toeing the line at events week-in and week-out all over the country, it is not uncommon for us to amalgamate some of the races in our heads into one, or for some complacency to sneak into our routines. Not this week.
The Amgen Tour of California is the domestic professionals’ glimpse into the WorldTour professionals’ amalgamation of big-time bike racing. Before we get too deep into the race, I wanted to convey to you here the impact of the importance of this week’s event to UCI Continental teams like mine, Jamis-Hagens Berman.
Throughout the year, we Continental teams reprise the role of Goliath in the peloton across the National Racing Calendar, normally dictating the race narratives and winning the lion’s share of the events over our amateur counterparts. This week in California, however, our collective role is reversed as we play that of David, mounting daily, cunning attempts with our best men to conquer the powerful and confident WorldTour riders.
We domestic teams will slightly bridle our inter-Continental rivalries for the week, tenuously united in a common goal of significantly impacting one of our country’s most prestigious cycling races. Competing athletes will more freely divulge race information and tactics. Rival directors will be a little more willing and eager to provide bottles and pacing when we need them. Soigneurs and mechanics from opposing teams will be more united and cooperative. All of this will happen because an Amgen Tour of California stage victory for any Continental team benefits and emboldens us all — the famous biblical tale epitomized.
I fully expect this week to see my domestic peers wholly focused and riding a step above their normal abilities. I also anticipate some of our European competition to be suffering from jetlag or California Dreamin’ — the plush, spacious hotel rooms and abundant, tasty race buffets are a far cry from typical European race accommodations. It’s that intersection of desperate domestic opportunism and potential WorldTour vulnerability where magical tales of the underdog triumphing can unfold. We’ve seen it here before. It’s my aim to be on the winning side of that juncture for myself or for a Jamis teammate, then to convey the inside story here afterwards.