Brisbane, Australia - The Fly V Australia Pro Cycling Team will be part of this year's star-studded field at the Amgen Tour of California.
The Australian continental squad is one of 16 teams that will compete in the eight-day, 800-mile (1,287 km) event from May 16-23.
Joining Fly V Australia in the field are 9 teams from the United States, 5 from Europe and 1 each from Canada and Australia. Three-time champion Levi Leipheimer is back to defend his title, helped by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
Team Owner Chris White said the prestige and publicity that goes along with competing in the UCI category 2.HC race - the highest for a cycling event in the United States - makes it one of the team's primary events on its 2010 race calendar. More than two million people turned out to watch the race last year.
"We are looking forward to going head-to-head with the best teams and riders in the world," White said. "This is the biggest race of the year for our team and a great test for our riders. Given the stature of the Amgen Tour of California the race will not only test the riders but will also provide us with an opportunity to further our journey towards the PRO Tour."
White went on to say, "With our strong view on North America and the stature of the Amgen Tour of California we believe that it is the door way for the Team to the Grand Tours of Europe."
Fly V Australia has already experienced its share of early-season success, winning 18 races - including the Redlands Bicycle Classic and San Dimas Stage Race. Redlands winner Ben Day is the leader in the National Racing Calendar standings and joined Jonathan Cantwell, Bernie Sulzberger and Phil Zajicek on the team's Tour of California roster last year. This year's eight-man roster for the race will be announced in the coming weeks.
V australia, the Fly V Australia's team's primary sponsor, has an agreement with the team's management company, Pegasus Racing Pty Ltd, to sponsor the team through 2011. V australia is the international airline of Virgin Blue, and was launched in February 2009 by Virgin Group Chairman and Virgin Blue major shareholder Sir Richard Branson. The airline operates nonstop, round-trip flights originating in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles, Fiji, Thailand and South Africa.
V australia is also sponsor of the most difficult stage in the race's five-year history. Stage 6 on Friday, May 21 traverses a 135-mile (217 km) course from Pasadena to Big Bear that includes more than 12,000 feet of climbing and a mountain top finish.