It’s safe to say the professional cycling circuit is its own cultural microcosm. Its roots lie deep in western European culture, however more and more, we’re seeing riders from other continents make their mark in the sport, giving it an entirely new flavor.
This year at the Amgen Tour of California, 19 teams from around the world will meet in Sacramento to begin a week of competition around California. Not only are the teams based in different countries, (for example, Astana in Kazakhstan, Team Dimension Data in South Africa and Bahrain Merida in Bahrain) many riders speak several languages. In most races, the most common language to communicate with other riders and officials is English, especially during USA races, but of course, this can vary depending on where in the world the races take place.
In the race caravan following the riders, officials and the race radio will communicate back to the team cars in English or French, the two official languages of the UCI (cycling's international governing body). Sometimes, the voice of race radio will also speak Italian, another language prevalent in cycling culture.
Sometimes communication isn’t easy at first, especially for riders whose first language is English and despite riding for a foreign based team. Take, for example, Amgen Tour of California alum Larry Warbasse. The Michigan native races with French team AG2R La Mondiale and despite living in France, struggled with the language until he committed to immersion classes during the off-season. Peter Sagan is another rider whose repertoire has expanded each year we’ve watched him excel on the bike. The Slovakian races for a German team, Bora-Hansgrohe, speaks Italian as a second language, and has expanded his English noticeably over the years he has been racing in the Amgen Tour of California.
Last year, the Amgen Tour of California hosted riders from more than 30 nations, and we’re expecting the same in this year’s upcoming edition. Despite the culture having roots in Western Europe, the sport has truly become a global competition. Team Dimension Data is Africa’s first WorldTour team whose mission is to provide bikes to African children, and a good portion of their team comes from the African continent. It’s steps like these that create greater accessibility to an otherwise distant sport.
In the women’s WorldTour peloton, more international teams are making the journey to California to compete than ever before. This year, three Italian, three German, a British and a Russian team are just some of the confirmed teams, along with Swapit Algolico from Mexico and the Dutch squad Boels Dolmans.
Cycling culture extends beyond nationality ranging from the type of bike you ride, your coffee preference and even your cycling kit. All of which could come from any part of the world, which is why, at the Amgen Tour of California, we’re proud to bring everyone together to celebrate our shared passion – a love of cycling.