It’s fun to watch the sprints and battle over the general classification (GC) leader’s jersey, but a major benefit of watching the Tour of California is for the American-based continental teams.
One such team is the Bontrager Cycling Team development squad, spearheaded by Axel Merckx, and they went on the offensive during the Tour of California.
It’s important for all of the continental teams to have a strong presence during major US races, as the TV and newspaper exposure is so important. The best way to get a lot of attention is to break away from the peloton and spend time in a breakaway.
Adding onto the breakaway efforts, let’s not forget Bontrager won the best young rider’s classification with Lawson Craddock and two other Bontrager riders sweeping the top three positions. Gavin Mannion and Tanner Putt joining Craddock on the best young rider’s podium is important for a team that needs to provide solid results every time out.
Here is what Craddock had to say (via CyclingNews):
“A year ago at this race no one knew who we were and people were doubting us. So to come here and prove them all wrong, get to know some of the older guys and more experienced guys in the peloton, is a really cool experience. And not only that, but you start to build relationships, too. And so it’s cool that we are being treated with respect, and we’ve done a lot to deserve it.”
The type of experience the young guys get from riding alongside riders like Jens Voigt, Peter Sagan, Sylvain Chavanel, and other major European peloton riders, is something near invaluable. Become familiar with their names, because you will see a couple of them in the Pro Tour.
As a cycling fan at a major race, it’s very difficult to get the opportunity to take a picture and chat with riders near the start or finish lines. However, every Bontrager rider the Alameda Runners met after the stage six individual time trial, each rider was appreciative of the support.
(Images from the Alameda Runners Trip to Tour of California, visit Ted’s Picasa page).