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Todays best Mathias Frank (Foto by AbbiOrca.com)
Todays best Mathias Frank (Foto by AbbiOrca.com)

Jeff Louder takes 10th place overall while Mathias Frank moves up GC at Sarthe

10. April 2009

Le Mans

In what was probably the hardest day of the five stage race, the BMC Racing Team topped off a successful week by placing Jeff Louder in the top 10 overall.  The day's parcours challenged the riders with an undulating beginning and then ended with four laps on a difficult circuit around Le Mans. 

Facing 195 kilometers including four ascents of the short but stiff 18% Gazonfier climb, the BMC Racing Team had four riders in the top 20 available to go after the win.  The difficulty of the stage suited the stronger climbers on the team. Consequently, Mathias Frank and Jeff Louder were able to stay with the leaders through the day, allowing each to move up the General Classification.  The stage was won by Jean-Eudes Demaret of Cofidis, though in the end Agritubel's David Le Lay was able to defend the overall lead.

Happy to be on a roll

"I am really very proud of the team for all the good work they did this week," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue happily reported.  "They rode as a coherent unit from beginning to end, always doing their assigned jobs, always on the offensive and always going for the victory."  After having worked through a period recently when things just were not clicking for the group, everyone is very satisfied to see the team riding at its proper level.  "The whole team road a great race even if the results could have been a bit better," Frank explained.  "Alex had a great chance to win the stage yesterday for instance, but in any case, it is much better for everyone to be riding like this again."  Holding his form after winning Redlands two weeks ago, Jeff Louder succeeded in entering the top 10 of a European race for the first time this year.  "Overall the day went quite well for us and it is a positive thing to see how well the team is riding as a group," Louder explained.  "There is a lot to be said for momentum and seeing everyone committed and riding as a unit."  Up till now, Louder had been racing on the BMC squad which focused on the American calendar.  Gaining success in his first Euro race of the year is a good omen for the top races to come.  "This race was really up our alley and suited our style of racing," Louder said.  "The tough Belgian races that the guys have been doing until now are very important for our development, but they are not the sorts of races you can just jump into; it takes a lot of experience to succeed in those types of events."  

Covering the moves

Though the weather was not as cooperative Friday as it had been much of the week, the team was able to communicate well with each other, covering nearly all the moves in what was a very fast first hour of the race.  "We were very fast early in the race and averaged something like 47km/h in the first hour," Frank said.  "Everyone was trying to get into a break."  One five man break did slip away from the peloton, but no BMC rider managed to join it.  "We missed one break and I told the guys that it was dangerous to our GC position so we had to chase it," Lelangue explained.   With four guys well placed on the GC, the task of chasing fell to the remaining two team members.  "Thomas Frei and Steve Bovay did an amazing job chasing down the group of five," Frank said.  "John told us we had to keep the group close, and Thomas and Steve managed to do that nearly single-handed."  "When Thomas and Steve were pulling, that meant that the rest of us we able to sit in at the front of the train and stay safe from the whiplash effect you get on these roads," Louder explained.  "That was a huge asset when we actually entered the circuits and the roads were wet from the rain and very narrow."

Entering the circuits around Le Mans

"When we hit the first circuit, Alex put in a strong attack," Lelangue explained.  "Unfortunately he wasn't able to maintain the gap, and so then turned his attention to helping Martin get through the tough sections."   Kohler, being much more a sprinter, had difficulty keeping up with the pure climbers up the Gazonfier.  However, both Louder and Frank were able to keep close contact to the leaders.  "Mathias and Jeff were able to stay with the good group," Lelangue explained.  "Mathias was protecting Jeff, but also had an eye towards improving his own place on the GC."  With their performances today, both riders were able to move up on the GC, Louder into 10th and Frank into 13th place overall.  "Jeff and I finished in a group of about 15 just behind the stage winners," Frank explained.  "Jeff road an amazing race and is so strong at the moment; the whole team did a great job today."  Looking to start Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, Jeff Louder expects the lessons learned at Sarthe will stand the team in good stead for the big show later in the weekend.  "I'm happy to have a day to recover for Sunday," Louder explained.  "And I know that we will be able to take what we have learned this week and put it to good use in the roads over northern France."