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Jeff Louder proving he can TT with the big boys (foto by Tim de Waele)
Jeff Louder proving he can TT with the big boys (foto by Tim de Waele)

Strong rides place Kohler and Louder in Sarthe Top 10

8. April 2009

Angers

Looking to build on the strong team performance from the day before, the BMC Racing Team faced a double stage day with a road race in the morning and a time trial in the afternoon.  The morning stage took place in the rain which considerably complicated matters as a late-stage crash took down race leader Enrico Rossi as well as Martin Kohler. 

No one suffered major injuries, but the chase to catch the lone breakaway rider, David Le Lay of Agritubel, was disrupted, resulting in his 21 second victory.  The real test came in the afternoon as the riders faced a slippery 6 km time trial around Angers.  Here Jeff Louder mixed in with the European TT specialists, taking an excellent 8th place on the day while Martin Kohler also excelled finishing just a second off his team mate's pace.

Getting their Euro groove back

"We had a really good day today," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue explained.  "And as well as it went, it could have been better."  Referring to the stage 2 crash which took down the front of the peloton, along with Martin Kohler, Lelangue and the rest of the group had every belief that without the late-stage mishap, the breakaway would have been caught.  "It had been raining all morning and once we hit the circuits in Angers, the roads were very slippery," Martin Kohler said.  "Once everyone reorganized for the sprint after the crash I was all alone up front and so didn't really have a chance in the sprint."  Nevertheless Kohler took 11th on the stage, still excellently placed for the afternoon time trial.  "The team work during the stage was really top-notch," Kohler said.  "Everyone took a great deal of care over me and made sure I had to do as little work as possible."

Surprising the TT specialists

"Both Jeff and Martin gave really strong performances in the TT today," Lelangue was happy to explain.  "Jeff finished 8th just seconds behind real specialists like Klöden, Rabon and Gutierrez, while even beating Tony Martin who is also very talented against the clock."  Martin Kohler came in 11th place, losing the best young rider race to Tony Martin by just 100ths of a second.  "Though the course had dried out a little for the guys who went early, by the time I started it was all wet again," Kohler described.  "I was pretty scared I would crash, so I took the corners pretty easy; I was a bit surprised my time was so fast still by the end."  Kohler and Louder's efforts find them in 5th and 10th place, respectively on the GC, both within 30 seconds of the lead at the end of three stages.

Hardest stages still to come

With two stages remaining and two riders in the top ten, BMC has a clear agenda for the rest of the race.  "Our approach will be to protect our two leaders," Lelangue revealed.  "The next two stages are the most difficult with climbs coming at the end of each stage.  But they are short climbs and the sorts of things that both Jeff and Martin will be able tackle."  Happy to be rolling with some momentum, Kohler is looking to keep his place with the leaders.  "Everyone feels the buzz and is excited," Kohler said.  "I definitely want to stay on the front and if I can get over the climbs with the leaders then that will be perfect!"