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Jeff Louder back racing after a break is showing he has good form at Cascade (foto by Tim de Waele)
Jeff Louder back racing after a break is showing he has good form at Cascade (foto by Tim de Waele)

Jeff Louder snags second place in Cascade stage 1

22. July 2009

Bend

Though Cascade's stage one was considered the most likely to come down to a bunch sprint, the day proved to be much more difficult and selective than the length and topography would suggest. 

A large lead group of over 20 riders formed about midway through the day and contained four BMC team members.  By the end of the day, this lead group gained around four minutes on the larger peloton behind, though the group of 20 did not come to the line together.  Instead, the heat and wind sapped the riders' strength, making it possible for lone attackers to splinter the group.  Bissell's Ben Jacques-Maynes held on to take the stage win, while Jeff Louder pipped Rock Racing's Francisco Mancebo at the line for second place.

Hot, dry day in saddle

"It was a good day for the team since we had Jeff Louder, Tony Cruz, Ian McKissick and Steve Bovay in among the 23 rider break," Directeur Sportif Mike Sayers commented.  "It was hot, windy and dry out there, so I think we can be happy with the number of cards we still have to play."  Looking at the riders who made up the main break, it can be said that each teams' usual suspects have used this first stage to put themselves in place to fight for the victory.  "Rock Racing had four guys in the break, Bissell had three or four guys there as did Ouch," Sayers said.  "So the usual people are still in there with a chance for the win."  The day's difficulty managed to whittle down the field perhaps more than expected.  "Once the initial group of 20 got away, I figured I would work to help set Tony up for the sprint finish since it is a flat run in," Jeff Louder explained.  "But it wasn't as straightforward as it seemed and in fact was a lot harder than anyone expected."  The heat and the lack of water complicated the final kilometers.  "Since there wasn't enough of a time gap between the lead group and the chasing pack to allow the team cars up to the riders at the front, most of the guys had to ride dry to the finish," Louder said.

Attacking for the win

Fighting a headwind into the finish, only the strongest were able to go for the victory.  "I attacked with 3 or 4 kilometers to go to the finish but a small group of guys which included Ben Jacques-Maynes caught me," Louder explained.  "When Ben counter-attacked there wasn't the same reaction they had for me and since Ben had a team mate with us, that made it harder to get a chase going."  With just over a kilometer remaining, Louder's chasing group was joined by several other riders.  "Mancebo was with the guys who caught us and then he jumped with about 1200 meters left," Louder revealed.  "I went after him, caught him with about 200 meters to go and just managed to pass him before the line."   Though sorry not to have grabbed the win, Louder is philosophical about what this means tactically for the team.  "I'm disappointed that I didn't get the win, but this does mean that we will have a little more leeway in the stage tomorrow and won't be expected to control the race," Louder said.  "It was surprising to see how people just fell apart at the finish and the stage clearly indicated which handful of riders will realistically have a shot at winning the overall." 

Climber's race with deciding time trial

"It can be a very dynamic race so anything can still happen," Louder concluded.  "But it should be a matter of climbing well and putting in a good time trial."  Mike Sayers agrees that the race will come down to which climber can time trial the best.  "Bissell has the lead and everyone knows that they have riders who can time trial," Sayers said.  "But in the end I think Rock showed today it is their race to lose and the other teams will probably put the emphasis on them to control the race."  Comfortable to be riding somewhat under the radar in these first few stages, BMC feels confident in the abilities of their all-around riders like Jeff Louder, Ian McKissick, and Brent Bookwalter.