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Martin Kohler still in the fight for Flanders (foto Stijn Vercaemer)
Martin Kohler still in the fight for Flanders (foto Stijn Vercaemer)

Strong finish for BMC in West Flanders stage 1

6. March 2009

Bellegem

In the heavily cobbled, windy first stage of the 3 Days of West Flanders, BMC placed four riders in the front group for the finishing sprint.  The 176 kilometer stage from Kortrijk to Bellegem took the riders over several sections of cobbles, including several passes over cobbled climbs. 

With only around 90 riders finishing in the main group, BMC was pleased that five of its riders survived the high attrition rate.  Near the end, a group of three riders broke away from the main peloton with Johnny Hoogerland of Vacansoleil taking the victory and the overall lead.

Always in position, never in difficulty

"Today was basically a good day for the team," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue reported.  "It was a fast tough race from the gun with a lot of cobbled sections and strong winds, but our five finishers were always in position and never in difficulty."  In the same stage last year, Danilo Wyss chalked up his first impressive finish as a professional with a fifth place in the sprint.  Though he was not able to repeat the result this year, the team as a whole seems to be much better prepared for the difficult conditions found in Belgium.  "We had Danilo Wyss, Tony Cruz, Ian McKissick and Brent Bookwalter finishing in the main group, and Martin Kohler would have been there at the finish if he hadn't crashed in the last lap," Lelangue explained.  "This is a promising result especially considering how well our American riders are reacting to the Belgian cobbles."   The wind and the tiny Belgian roads proved to be the deciding factor in the stage.  "For me the race went relatively well," Danilo Wyss commented after the stage.  "The parcours was pretty flat but we had a strong head wind much of the time and the small Belgian roads certainly makes this a challenging race."

Legs feeling good, well positioned for weekend of racing

"Danilo is in a good position to contest the sprint for the win in the next two stages, and we still have designs on going for a high place in the GC overall," Lelangue revealed.  "We are very confident in our chances and know that our materials are well suited to help us reach our goals."  In races such as these cobbled semi-classics which are so hard on equipment, choosing the correct set up is key to success.  "We are very happy with the special classic DT Swiss wheels that we used today," Lelangue said.  "We didn't even have any punctures."  With five riders still present to fight for victory in the next days, Lelangue feels as though he can develop an effective plan to meet the team's goals.  "Even with Martin's crash today we can see that all the remaining guys are feeling fit and in shape," Lelangue said.  "Tomorrow there will be fewer cobbles but the wind will be even more demanding; we have a strong enough group that we should be ready to make the moves happen to our benefit."