While the eyes of the cycling world are trained on Ireland this weekend and the start of the Giro d’Italia, the west coast of America is the focus for two West Yorkshireman bidding to be on the start line at the Tour de France.
Josh Edmondson and Scott Thwaites ride the eight-day Tour of California from Sunday, a race that may not have the grand tour prestige of the Giro which began in Ireland on Friday, but one that could have wide-ranging significance for the rest of the summer.
Edmondson, 21, from Leeds, rides in support of Sir Bradley Wiggins for Team Sky, whose team principal Dave Brailsford has opted to head to Sacremento for tomorrow’s first stage to underline the relevance of this week’s race.
Thwaites, 24, from Burley-in-Wharfedale, goes in support of Tiago Machado for German team NetApp-Endura.
The significance of a strong showing in California this week is greater for Thwaites as NetApp are understood to be naming their long list of 14 riders for this sumemr’s Tour de France on their return from America.
That list will then be whittled down to nine by the middle of June.
Ralph Denk, the team principal of NetApp Endura, said in January that Thwaites had as good a chance of any of his team of making the squad for the Tour de France which begins in Leeds on July 5.
Thwaites has been in good form in his second season with the pro-continental team, earning runner-up finishes at the Ronde van Drenthe classic in Holland and on a stage of the recent Giro del Trentino on Italy.
Edmondson, who is more of a support rider, has a tougher task making the Tour de France start line in his home city, given the strength and depth of the Sky squad he has to fight through, and his relative inexperience.
With so much at stake then for both, it makes this Tour of California all the more significant.