LA DAILY NEWS: Brent Bookwalter primed for Amgen Tour of California

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Brent Bookwalter has paid his dues.

He is in his 10th year with BMC Racing Team and is finally ready to challenge the world’s top cyclists.

“Throughout my career, more often than not, I’ve been a team worker and sacrificed for team results,” he said. “I have been happy and proud to be able to do that.

“Racing the Amgen Tour of California, the Tour (de France) and the Giro (d’Italia), I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of successful leaders. I learned a lot from them. I’ve been taking a lot of mental notes over the years. And although I still relish a role of working for others, I can now also see myself as a closer.”

Bookwalter, 33, will be competing in his fifth Amgen Tour of California, which begins Sunday in Sacramento. The seven-day race comes to Southern California on Wednesday and concludes May 20 in downtown Pasadena.

Last year, the American finished a career-best third in the race.

“I’ve really grown with the team and the team has grown with me,” he said. “When I came to the team 10 years ago, we were just growing and I was not ready for (Grand Tour events). It’s been nice to grow together and see the changes over the years. Now, we’re among the tops in our sport and competing against the best riders in the world.”

BMC, which has been one of the staples of the Amgen Tour, won the ATOC team title last year, the second time the American-owned team has won the crown. Bookwalter’s teammate, Rohan Dennis, finished second to winner Julian Alaphillipe of France. Bookwalter, who lives in Asheville, North Carolina, when not in Europe, finished 43 seconds behind Alaphillipe.

His previous best finish in the event was 15th in 2011. He competed in the Giro d’Italia in 2014 and 2015, which runs concurrently with the ATOC.