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Jackson Stewart (Foto by Tim De Waele).
Jackson Stewart (Foto by Tim De Waele).

Lelangue: My most satisfying Roubaix ever!

12. April 2009

Roubaix

Having received a Wild Card invitation to the Paris-Roubaix barely a month ago, the BMC Racing Team was faced with the challenge of bringing a team made up almost entirely of Roubaix neophytes to the hardest one day race in the world. 

Though the team was fortunate to have Roubaix veterans like Directeur John Lelangue and team leader Tony Cruz to guide them, on the whole, the event was going to be a first time learning experience for nearly the rest of the team and staff.  Nevertheless, BMC was very proud to have three riders able to finish their laps around the Roubaix velodrome after the entire team worked cohesively like seasoned “hell of the north” professionals.  Though the overall finishing positions of the riders could have been better if they hadn’t suffered certain mishaps, there was going to be no stopping Tom Boonen who successfully defended his title from 2008, and joined the ranks of three-time Roubaix winners. 

Really a crazy race

“Paris-Roubaix is always a difficult race, but I am really, really proud of how our team did,” Directeur Sportif John Lelangue reported.  “It is such a challenging race not only for the racers but also for the staff that I am enormously impressed with how well our entire team worked throughout the day!”  Though the first-timers on the team knew well the reputation of the race and had an idea of what to expect, the reality was still a bit shocking.  “First impression was that it was just such a crazy race,” first-time finisher Brent Bookwalter said.  “We all came in expecting it to be crazy, but the magnitude of the crowd and the nervous energy of the field really turn this into another animal.”  Inside the race itself, the BMC team members were working well together, keeping well-positioned and watching out for each other.  “We were very lucky early in the race with few mechanicals, and the guys were all able to keep themselves out of trouble for the most part,” Lelangue explained.  “I was car number 24 in the caravan, though, so when one of the guys did have a problem, their team mates or a member of staff strategically placed along the route was there to help whoever from the team was in trouble.” 

Cutting their teeth on cobbles

Alex Moos was BMC’s best finisher in 68th place.  However the end result could have been much better for Moos.  Entering the cobbled section Carrefour de l'Arbre Moos was well-placed in the main peloton, however he had the misfortune to have had a spectator accidentally put a flag pole through his front wheel.  “Alex crashed very hard in the Carrefour de l'Arbre and was beat-up pretty badly,” Lelangue explained.  “He must have lost 8 or 9 minutes there because he needed a new bike and it took a few minutes for him to gather himself together.”  With a cut on the head and a bloodied knee and elbow, Moos was forced to race the last 17 kilometers on his own.  “I am really proud of how hard Alex fought to finish the race even with his injuries,” Lelangue said.  “Brent Bookwalter and Ian McKissick also did a fantastic job of fighting to the last cobble.”  “We had a bit of rough luck on the whole as a team which brought home to us just how much good fortune you need to do really well in this event,” Bookwalter said.  “Even with the perfect weather conditions there were crashes everywhere.”

Props to the staff

“As well as the riders did, I can’t say enough about just how hard and how well the staff did their jobs too,” Lelangue said.  “Without the overwhelming efficiency and professionalism of our soigneurs and mechanics, I am certain we would have never had 3 finishers in the race.”  For the mechanics, Ian Sherburne, Vince Gee and Kevin Grove, Paris-Roubaix represents the biggest material challenge in the entire season.  “The mechanics were able to give the riders fast and efficient support throughout the race, and then were also available to provide any additional assistance like with helping in feed zones,” Lelangue explained.  “And our two soigneurs, Kaycee Evans and Graeme McCallum have been absolutely invaluable during the entire pre-race preparation and during the race providing moral and physical support to the team.”  With two feed zones to man and miscellaneous aid to offer the riders throughout the 259 kilometer event, the staff of five certainly had their hands full.  “We laid out a plan of military precision the night before in the staff meeting,” Lelangue revealed.  “And honestly when I saw the staff at work during the race, it seemed to me that they had been doing this race for the past 10 years instead of this being their first time.” 

Happy to join the annals of Roubaix finishers

“In our first attempt as a team at Paris-Roubaix, to have three finishers from such a young group is a real accomplishment,” Lelangue said.  “Alex, Brent and Ian are a part of the history of finishing this event which is, along with the Tour of Flanders, the hardest one day race anywhere in the world.”  In what was a strong first appearance at the Paris-Roubaix, the team can feel proud of its cohesion and success.  “This is one of those races that everyone wants to finish,” Bookwalter said.  “Everyone knows the history and will push through a lot more pain; Alex’s crash is a prime example: after a crash like that in any other one day race, he probably would have not gone on, but since it was Roubaix he just had to keep on fighting till the end.”  Their fighting spirit bodes well for future accomplishments.