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Tough Days in the Saddle

12. April 2008

GP Pino Cerami and GP Drenthe

The BMC Racing Team has returned to the cold Low Countries’ spring and ventured out in two more semi-classic races. Thursday found the squad at the GP Pino Cerami in Belgium, while Saturday afternoon they duked it out at the GP Drenthe in the Netherlands.

Cerami: the team makes obvious improvements

The racing weekend started out well for the young guns on BMC.  At the GP Pino Cerami, it became apparent that the enthusiastic if inexperienced American racers were quickly getting the hang of this Euro classic racing.  “It was a very good day in the team’s learning process,” Directeur John Lelangue reported post race.  “The tactics were good with cagey strategic moves being made by the guys, even the ones not used to this sort of racing.”  In contrast to some of the earlier Belgian races the guys took part in several weeks ago, the Cerami had six BMC riders hit the final stages of the race in the lead group.  “We had five guys in the main group with 15 km left to race,” Lelangue was happy to report.  “Jackson had had a tough day and lost contact with a few km left to go, but otherwise we had McKissick, Garcia, Tolleson, Kohler and Wyss.”  Saddly missing from the front group was Tony Cruz who had crashed and broken his collarbone with 55 km raced.  “My wheel slipped out from under me as we crested a cobbled climb,” Cruz reported.  “I landed right on my shoulder, but hoped I had only strained some muscles.”  He road on for another 50km before deciding that he had really broken something.

Flying in the sprint for the line

With four team mates to help him in the final, Danilo Wyss’ chances for a strong sprint were as good as they have ever been on European soil this year.  “Martin was very strong and helped lead out Danilo in the finale,” Lelangue explained.  “We are very happy with Danilo’s 6th place and the fact that he was also on the podium as best young rider.  He was boxed in those last few meters, or I’m sure he would have had the podium.”  “At the end of the 194 km race, we had 3 finishing circuits that were short but tough with two very stiff climbs,” Danilo reported.  “Pure Flanders territory.  But it was tough for everyone, so I grit my teeth and stayed near the front since I knew it would end in a sprint.”

GP Drenthe offers a tougher day of finding the bright side

The GP Drenthe became a race of attrition with many racers getting off their bikes before the finish line.  “The race started really fast with very bad cobbles,” Lelangue said.  “After about 70 km there was a big split in the group, but I was very impressed to see Ian McKissick and Martin Kohler make the cut.”  Ian had never raced in Belgium until about three weeks ago, but after three races and many training hours on the cobbled Northern roads, Ian has made great strides in his positioning and tactics.  “I was really impressed to see Ian race so well today,” Lelangue reported.  “His positioning is improving a lot and he is learning quickly how to conserve energy during these long, strenuous races.”  Lelangue went on to praise another of his young charges, Martin Kohler. “Martin was instrumental in Danilo’s success this past Thursday,” Lelangue explained.  “And he also had very good legs today.” Martin only just missed joining the first group during the final split in the race.  “There was a group of about 50 riders,” Lelangue described, “Martin and Ian were both there.  But then there was a hilly section and they were not able to make the split.”  The two BMC riders made the most of their race, though, by winning the sprint into the finish for the second group.