Foreign Exergy Tour teams compete at disadvantage

Boise, ID (KBOI) - Seventeen different countries are represented at Boise's Exergy Tour - but some of those cyclists are at a disadvantage.

Foreign-based teams like Germany's Abus Nutrixxion team had to pick and choose what equipment to bring - leaving bikes, spare wheels and tools along with comfort items like chairs and tents at home.

Ana-Bianca Schnitzmeier and Rachel Neylan came to Boise early, and stayed with a member of a local cycling club and his wife. When the two visitors explained their travel situation - their hosts quickly volunteered as much camping gear as they could spare.

"They say, oh yeah, we can borrow you [sic] the tent and the chairs," the German Schnitzmeier said. "It's perfect when you have somebody like that."

That was just the beginning. Coolers, blankets and umbrellas were all necessities the host family provided the German team during the tour.

"Those are the sorts of things we can't bring with us," Neylan said.

Travel restrictions also limited the five-woman Nutrixxion team to two time-trial bikes. The more aerodynamic, specialty bikes can help shave more than a minute off a ten-mile time trial (like Kuna's stage 2) compared to the team's road bikes.

Nutrixxion wasn't the only team forced to leave bikes at home.

"We were trying to fit in our luggage, bikes, spare wheels - all our nutritional needs," said Diadora-Pasta Zara rider Amber Pierce. Her team is based in Italy.

Pierce's team took shelter from Saturday's rain under a 3-foot overhang of a local business in Kuna. There were no chairs, so cyclists sat on planter boxes and propped bikes up on stationary machines with plastic screw boxes.

"There's a lot of logistical issues that go on, and actually Exergy Tour has been fantastic about helping us supplement with stuff that we couldn't bring over."

Budgets have plenty to do with travel restrictions, too. The gap between the richest and poorest traveling teams is well into six-figures, race officials said.

"We just work with what we have," Neylan said. "Sometimes it's nice to be able to compete with teams with bigger budgets and see what you can do despite that."

Boise's local cycling community has helped even the playing field for teams in this situation - but the reality is, it happens every time most teams travel to a different continent and they're used to it.

"I think one thing biker racers are good at is making a little go a long way," said Pierce. "I think everybody's been in that position at some point."