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The BMC Racing Team was prominent on the front on the climb up Mt. Palomar. (©BMC/Tim De Waele.)
The BMC Racing Team was prominent on the front on the climb up Mt. Palomar. (©BMC/Tim De Waele.)

Amgen Tour, Stage 1: Heat Takes Its Toll

13. May 2013

Intense heat, a lot of climbing and the pursuit of two separate breakaways tore the peloton into pieces Sunday on the opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Six In The Front Group
Only 53 of the 110 riders remaining in the race are within 45 seconds of the lead following the 165.2-kilometer stage that saw temperatures soar past the 39-degree Celsius mark (103 degrees Fahrenheit). Six riders from the BMC Racing Team finished in the lead pack after first leading the pursuit of the day's main breakaway up and over Mt. Palomar before trying to bring back stage winner Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM Procycling Team) and runner-up Francisco Mancebo (5-Hour Energy presented by Kenda). The pair escaped in the final 10 km to win by six seconds as Mathias Frank was the BMC Racing Team's best finisher, in 13th, and Tejay van Garderen was 17th. Both stand 16 seconds off the lead, along with teammates Amaël Moinard, Brent Bookwalter, Marco Pinotti and Michael Schär."It was not a really good day for us because we lost time to two of the five guys who we are watching out for on the GC (general classification) list on a stage with bonifications," BMC Racing Team Assistant Director John Lelangue said. "But it's still a long ways to (the finish in) Santa Rosa."

Time Loss Not A Big Concern
Van Garderen said conceding a handful of seconds on the first stage of the eight-day race wasn't something he foresaw. "It's never a good thing to start a race on the back foot," he said. "If it would have been two other guys, it would have been no problem. But those two guys are threats for the GC, so I would have rather not have lost time to them. But with the two big finishes and the long time trial, I don't think 16 seconds is going to end up making or breaking the race." World road champion Philippe Gilbert, in his U.S. racing debut, said he suffered from cramps while finishing 56th, 9:11 behind. "It was very, very warm and very fast at the end," he said. "I had the same feeling like in Australia (at the Santos Tour Down Under), with the jet lag I'm not that good." With a 199 km race through the desert in even hotter conditions ahead on Monday's Stage 2, Gilbert said he hopes to contribute more. "For us, it's clear that it's everything for Tejay," he said. "He's good and he has big ambitions. If I can help him, I will do it."

Click here to listen to complete comments from Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Lelangue and van Garderen on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.