This morning, the 2009 Amgen Tour of California organizers announced the first eight teams, all ProTour teams, for the race to be held during nine days starting on February 14, 2009. The 8 ProTour teams are:
- Ag2r-La Mondiale (FRA)
- Astana (LUX)
- Garmin-Slipstream (USA)
- Liquigas (ITA)
- Quick Step (BEL)
- Rabobank (Netherlands)
- Columbia Highroad (USA)
- Team Saxo Bank (DEN)
No major surprise on the list so far: race-sponsor Rabobank, the 2 US-registered ProTour teams, Columbia High Road (is that their new name for 2009?) and Garmin-Slipstream. Astana with two-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer and of course returning Lance Armstrong. Team Saxo Bank with its new US-based bike sponsor, Specialized. Liquigas who ride Cannondale and Quick Step are repeat participants. The only minor surprise is the French team, Ag2r-LaMondiale. I guess they heard about the terrific weather we had last year.
Given the UCI rule that a maximum of 50% of the teams for a 2.HC UCI America race can be ProTour teams, we can expect at least 8 more teams, Pro Continental, Continental or National teams to be announced. Teams expected to also participate are Pro Continental BMC, Jelly Belly who have been sponsors since the race started, Team Type 1, Bissell who sponsor the broom wagon. Other US-registered teams could be Rock Racing, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Colavita/Sutter Home, Amore & Vita and the new OUCH teams. The Pro Continental team Cervelo TestTeam with Carlos Sastre has expressed interest in attending.
The full list of teams will be announced in January, with final rosters due in February.