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BMC is in tough company at the Tour of Belgium (foto by Tim de Waele)
BMC is in tough company at the Tour of Belgium (foto by Tim de Waele)

BMC stays safe, bides time at Tour of Belgium

28. May 2009


With a parcours practically dictating a sprint finish, the mass gallop at the end of the Tour of Belgium's stage 2 came as a surprise to no one.  Though a five man break did build an eight minute lead at one point, there was little doubt that the strong sprinting teams would neutralize the break in the end. 

A crash at the finish line marred the day's finale, though the winner and new race leader, Borut Bozic can be happy to have given Vacansoleil another good result.   Team BMC concentrated on conserving energy and giving Markus Zberg a shot at joining in the final sprint where he finished 12th.

With no big teams in the break, chalk this one up for the sprinters

"Today was another really fast day with another long breakaway," John Lelangue explained.  "There were a lot of attacks right from the beginning, though we knew that the sprinters teams would chase the one that eventually did get away so we decided not to join it."  Preferring to conserve energy for the battles which will certainly come later in the week, BMC stayed safe and quiet in the peloton.  "We didn't join the breakaway group, but we also didn't have to chase since we knew that the bigger teams were not represented in the break, and so they would never give this break too much of a chance," Lelangue said.  With two riders still well placed for the overall, and Markus Zberg sprinting strongly, BMC focused on keeping their protected men rested for the greater portion of the stage.  "I'm feeling okay, though I lost a little time yesterday," BMC's Mathias Frank reported. "Now we're working for Thomas Frei and Brent Bookwalter since they are still very well placed."

Chaotic final lap

"Coming into the final lap of the stage with about 25km to go, there was a really strong attack of between 9 to 12 guys including Jeff Louder," Lelangue reported.  "It looked like a really good group of teams, but unfortunately the collaboration was not there, and they were pulled back by the pack."  Though the mix of teams was right, the riders representing most of those teams were wrong, and there was not the coordination within the group needed to make it stick.  When Louder's group was pulled back, a mass sprint became inevitable.   "Markus took 12th in the sprint which is pretty close to our top 10 goal," Lelangue said.  "There was a nasty crash at the finish line, but luckily for our team none of our riders were involved."  Most importantly, Brent Bookwalter and Thomas Frei were both able to hold their positions on the leader board and are still well within striking distance of the top 10. 

The Cobbles for Friday, the Ardennes for Saturday

"I expect tomorrow to come down to a sprint again, though there are a couple of cobble sections, and if the wind is particularly harsh, we could see some splits made," Lelangue predicted.  "The course though is totally flat so surely the key stage for the week will come on Saturday."   Racing over some of the most difficult climbs in Belgium, Saturday's stage will offer the selection which is needed to break up the log-jam that characterizes the time gaps on the GC at the moment.  "Saturday is going to be a really good stage and very tough," Mathias Frank explained.  "It is near Liège so we will ride over some of the roads used for that famous race; then Sunday's time trial will be good practice and finally decide the race overall."   With everyone on BMC feeling healthy and avoiding the pile-ups, spirits are high and a strong strategy is in place to help make this another successful stage race for the team.