It's that time again – when speculation begins as to which teams will be part of the most prestigious stage race in the United States.
For U.S. continental teams, a berth in this race brings unprecedented media attention and the opportunity to post results that can make or break an entire season. In the inaugural edition (2006), new-kid-on-the-block Toyota-United burst onto the scene with two stage wins. And until Rock Racing won the opening road stage last year, no other U.S.-registered team at the continental level had earned an ATOC stage win.
Rules stipulate that at least half of the field for a UCI 2.HC event must be comprised of U.S.-registered teams. Considering race organizer AEG has trimmed the race back by one day, it would not be a surprise if the field was cut from 17 to 16 teams this year.
Make the jump to see which teams were in the race last year and which ones are a lock to be there again in May.Here's a look at who was in the field last year:
Ag2r-La Mondiale (FRA)
Bissell Pro Cycling Team (USA)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Cervelo Test Team (SUI)
Colavita/Sutter Home Presented by Cooking Light (USA)
Fly V Australia presented by Successful Living Foundation Team (AUS)
Jelly Belly Cycling Team (USA)
Ouch Presented by Maxxis (USA)
Quick Step (BEL)
Rock Racing (USA)
Saxo Bank (DEN)
Team Columbia (USA)
Team Type 1 (USA)
The three American ProTour-level teams are a lock: Garmin-Slipstream, HTC-Columbia and Team RadioShack – as is pro continental-level BMC Racing Team, which has both national road champion George Hincapie and national criterium champion John Murphy. With those four teams in place, that leaves room for four domestic teams (assuming a 16-team field) or five (17-team field). Which teams do you want to see?