The major events held this month on the American continent were the Pan-American Continental Championships in Medellin, Colombia, and the Tour of California (HC).
There was a lot at stake at the Pan-American Championships this year, with competitors out to gain qualification points for the Pan-American Games, for the UCI Road World Championships and for the Olympic Games.
The road events were extremely well organized in Rio Negro, a city with a strong cycling tradition. The hot conditions coupled with the high altitude meant the competitors had their work cut out for them.
The time trial on May 6th was raced on a perfect stretch of road that allowed the athletes to clock up very fast times. The title went to the Argentinean Leandro Messineo who defeated last yearâ€™s champion, the Colombian Ivan Mauricio Casas, by three seconds. Tomas Aurelio Gil Martinez (VEN) took third place, and the young Ramon Carratero (PAN) finished a remarkable fourth overall, to take the U23 title. This was the first medal for Panama in the Pan-American Championships.
The road race two days later was very exciting with a succession of attacks and chases amongst the 131 participants. A strong group of eight riders went clear, comprising of four Colombians, two Brazilians, one rider from Chile, and one from Mexico. Finally it was the Brazilian athlete Gregory Panizo who was the surprise winner ahead of Gonzalo Garrido Zenteno (CHI). The Colombian athletes took bronze with Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez. Brazil was also delighted to win the U23 classification with Gideoni Monteiro, securing an additional spot for the UCI Road World Championships.
Amgen Tour of California
This year, the Amgen Tour of California was held in May (15th â€“ 22nd) instead of February with the aim of avoiding bad weather experienced in previous editions. However, the wintery conditions appeared determined to follow the move and the first stage had to be cancelled because of snow. Even so, the event was once again a huge success, with large crowds lining the roads to cheer on the riders.
After some other route changes due to the weather, the race continued with a mix of sprints and up hill finishes. The Radio Shack riders Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer were the best climbers and finished first and second overall.
One-day events in Venezuela
Meanwhile, two one-day events took place in Venezuela. The Clasico Aniversario de la Federacion Veneolana de Ciclismo on May 14th was won by Angel Pulgar (VEN). The following day his compatriot, Miguel Ubeto Aponte was victorious in the Copa Federacion venezolana de ciclismo corre por la vida.