Los Angeles Times

Cycling's 'domestiques' ride, serve and do everything but win

LOS ANGELES - Minutes before the start of the race, Tom-Jelte Slagter is still fussing over his bicycle, adjusting the brake caliper on the rear wheel, searching for just the right setting.

The day ahead figures to be arduous, with many of the world's top riders facing a hilly, 97-mile course that sweeps inland from Ventura and ultimately scales the mountains above Santa Barbara.

"There will be 40 or 45 minutes of climbing," Slagter says of the finish. "If you go too fast in the beginning ... maybe you kill yourself before you're halfway."

Short and wiry, the Dutch cyclist is well-suited for such grueling conditions. His years of experience on the international circuit should also help.

But as he fine-tunes his bike and joins the rest of Team Dimension Data - the seven professional cyclists dressed in white jerseys and bright green helmets - there

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