The Amgen Tour of California(AToC) organizers had the capacity to invite 18 teams to its recent race; it only invited 17. One team noticeably absent was the Canadian Symetrics squad which, in 2007, won the UCI Continental Championship for North and South America an honor which means it was the best team, based on UCI points, on two continents. Add to that, their rider Svein Tuft, not only won the individual UCI Continental Championships as well, but he also pulled off a remarkable win at the US Open, a race televised nationally on NBC TV, last April.
Unfortunately, Symetrics got no love from AToC organizers and was left out of the race. The Vancouver-based squad was on the sidelines as teams they beat in 2007 were racing in the Tour of California. I ran into one of their top riders, Eric Wohlberg, a three-time Canadian Olympian the day before the start of the AToC. His frustration was evident; there really was no good reason the Symetrics team was left out of the race.
Hey but, Eric is a champion and champions don't get mad, they get even. This past weekend was the first big race on the US domestic calendar after the AToC, The Merco Cycling Classic, and all of the US domestic squads who had competed in the AToC were set to participate. All Eric did was solo off the front for the final 25 miles of the 120-mile road race to win alone. That's an in-your-face move if ever there was one!
You have to know Eric to realize that it wasn't so much as kicking mud in your eye. It was just a case of kicking your butt. As former US Postal/Discovery Channel rider and fellow Canadian Michael Barry once told me, "Eric has two speeds, hard and harder." Here's hoping that Eric and his Symetrics team can get some love from the other top races in the US. They deserve to be at all of them, including that Tour of California gig. Hey, was all that rain some sort of karma payback?