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The day before they begin their defense of Cadel Evans’ maillot jaune, his BMC Racing Team announced Monday that they will be back in Salt Lake City in August to contest the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The race organizer confirmed that BMC, who was not on the original roster released last month, will take the start August 17 at the state capitol.
The team will enter five riders in the six-day, five-stage race: Chris Barton, Chris Butler, George Hincapie, Jeff Louder and Simon Zahner. It will be Hincapie’s first Tour of Utah and only the second time his national champion’s jersey has been on display in the States. “I’m excited to be able to do another race in the U.S.,” said Hincapie. “From what I’ve heard, it’s a well-organized and very demanding race.”
Louder, the 2008 overall winner, said he was targeting the event. “As a native Utahn, I am particularly motivated to do well and we are bringing a team that will be competing for the win,” he said.
BMC has not spent much time racing on North American soil in 2010. A handful of younger riders have ridden in composite teams at regional and national events in the first half of the season. Butler, Hincapie and Zahner were at the start of the Amgen Tour of California in May; Butler and Zahner finished 41st and 47th, respectively, while Hincapie battled for a stage win on the final day in Thousand Oaks.
Exemption to UCI Rule 2.1.009
BMC’s inclusion in the race, particularly with a five-rider squad, raised questions about the enforcement of UCI rule 2.1.009, which precludes Pro Continental and ProTour teams from fielding rosters in nationally sanctioned events. In 2009, Astana and BMC were forced to send riders home from the Tour of the Gila when officials invoked the rule. Trios from Garmin-Transitions and RadioShack raced Gila this spring in DZNuts and Mellow Johnny’s kit, respectively.
Dave Zabriskie became a lightning rod at Utah last year when he switched between three different kits (DZNuts, Garmin and a blank jersey) throughout the week in an attempt to fit within the rules. At the same time, BMC entered a full eight-rider squad in the race after USA Cycling COO Sean Petty facilitated an exemption for the team, at their request, to enter a specific schedule of U.S. events.
“After Gila 2009, that’s when we addressed initially the issue,” said Petty. “At that time, the UCI had the road commission meeting later on and we said, ‘Look, it’s a bit of a Catch-22. They’re registered in the U.S. and therefore they can’t do these Category 2 races and others in Europe, so they’ve got to race to be prepared for other, bigger races.’”
BMC submitted a racing schedule to the UCI after the commission met and were granted an exemption for those select events, which included the Tour of Utah, where Brent Bookwalter won the prologue and Louder finished third overall.
Petty confirmed Monday that he appealed to the UCI again this year for an exemption to allow BMC to field a team and race in their regular kits.
“I made a request for the UCI on BMC and Tour of Utah’s behalf to have them compete in that race, based on the same issue we had last year,” said Petty. “So, that’s just what we ended up with at Tour of Utah; have a full team and be able to ride in their kit there. I thought that was important for the race, certainly for Jeff Louder, for everyone I think it’s a good thing.”
Petty said that no other teams have discussed a similar petition with him at this time and the Tour of Utah is the only race for which BMC applied.