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Alex Moos enjoying his time in France (Foto by Tim De Waele)
Alex Moos enjoying his time in France (Foto by Tim De Waele)

BMC'S Alex Moos takes 9th in stage four at Sarthe

9. April 2009

Pré-en-Pail

The fourth stage of the Circuit Cyclist Sarthe offered multiple bonification sprints in the first part of the race which gave the sprinters an early opportunity to make some points.  But the course had a real sting in its tail with a 2km climb averaging 8% which came with just a few kilometers from the finish. 

With two well-placed riders in the top 10 and the rest of the team feeling strong, BMC entered the stage with multiple cards to play.  By the end, a small group of 11 riders containing Alex Moos separated itself from the main field on the slopes of the climb.  They finished 8 seconds ahead of the hard-charging main group which included Martin Kohler, Jeff Louder and Mathias Frank.  Anthony Roux of Française Des Jeux won the sprint for the stage while Alex Moos took 9th in the gallop.

Overall good day despite crucial loss of seconds

"It was a good day for the team, even if we lost a couple places for the moment on the GC," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue reported.  "We now have four guys in the top 20 all within about 48 seconds of the lead, so we can feel very confident with the number of options we have for the stage tomorrow."  In 9th place, Martin Kohler is still the best positioned of the team members.  "I felt good all day but I am not happy with losing the 8 seconds at the finish," Martin Kohler explained.  "It will be hard to make that up in one stage."  Kohler had expected the final climb in stage 4 to play a crucial role for the day.  "I wanted to stay with the leaders, but there was a gap heading up the hill and at the top the front group had about 15 seconds on us," Kohler said. 

Moos moving up with the leaders

"We decided to focus on Alex to give him a chance at a victory since it is the sort of stage which is perfect for him," Lelangue explained.  Since a very strong Alex Moos represented BMC in the break, the team was faced with the dilemma of whether to chase down their team mate in order to save positions on the GC.  "Alex has been very strong all week and particularly so today," Kohler said.  "We hesitated to chase him down since it looked like he could win the stage from that group, but with about 1.5 km still to go, Jeff, Mathias and I started chasing full-gas."  By the finish the BMC threesome reduced the gap to just 8 seconds.  Unfortunately for the team, Moos was boxed in for the sprint, and unable to put in as strong of a challenge for the stage win as he would have liked.  "On the climb I put in an attack and found a little group going away from the rest," Moos explained.  "Unfortunately I was blocked in the sprint and had to put on the breaks which ruined my chance for the win."

One more stage with a sting in its tail

Though loosing a few seconds on Thursday may complicate the efforts for winning the overall, the final stage can certainly be selective enough to open up advantageous time gaps.  A top 10 overall finish is still well within the grasp of both Kohler who now site in 9th place, and Louder who was pushed back to 13th.  "Tomorrow is another difficult stage which will be very challenging in the early parts as well as at the finish with the final climb," Lelangue said.  "It will be an offensive battle where there will be multiple opportunities for a breakaway to gain significant time."  With so many riders within a minute of the lead, they will certainly have a big fight on their hands.  The teams are allowed to field only 6 instead of the more usual 8 riders for the Circuit Cyclist Sarthe.  This makes team work that much harder and that much more essential for success.  Controlling the entire stage becomes practically impossible, as Agritubel, the team of race leader David Le Lay found out in stage 4.  "Today Agritubel controlled the race until the climb, but with only six guys they were so tired that they couldn't control the climb and it became a real mess," Kohler revealed.

Nothing is finished or certain

"Tomorrow has another difficult finish since the climb is not as long as today's, but it has sections of around 20%!"  Kohler said.    Alex Moos sees the parcours as another prime opportunity for an escape group to succeed.  "Tomorrow's course is a good one for attacking," Moos explained.  "The whole team is extremely motivated and we expect to do well."  Their attacking spirit well intact, BMC sees opportunity written all over the final stage.  "It is difficult to organize teams with only 6 riders, and that increases the chances of well-timed breaks," Lelangue concluded.  "We have four guys in great positions and so have many cards to play.  We will go out for the win tomorrow and whether we succeed or not, we are nevertheless extremely happy with the way our guys have raced this week." Kohler too feels up to the challenge.  "I don't know that I am strong enough to get away from guys like Klöden on the climb, but you never know, maybe I will be able to get time," Kohler said.  "I will certainly try my hardest to fulfil the team plan."