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Darren Lill (BMC) spend some time pulling on the front of the break. Photo ©: Jonathan Devich/epicimages
Darren Lill (BMC) spend some time pulling on the front of the break. Photo ©: Jonathan Devich/epicimages

BMC’s Lill and Bookwalter power the day’s break, Wyss takes 8th in field sprint

13. September 2008

Jefferson City

The peloton woke up to threatening skies Friday morning and looking forward to another day of constant rolling hills.

Though the 175km route from St. James to Jefferson City stayed basically dry and did not offer the same dramatic opportunities which made Thursday’s stage so frenetic, there were plenty of possibilities to shake up the race.  Ever on the attack, BMC found itself with two riders in the day’s main break, a break which almost certainly should have made it to the line.

Following the BMC pattern for the week

“Today we were aggressive like we have been every day,” John Lelangue reported.  “It is always good for us to be in the breaks, and if this one had gone to the line, we probably would have taken over the team classification from Columbia.”   At the start of the stage, BMC trailed Columbia by only 2:18 in the team classification.  With both Darren Lill and Brent Bookwalter in the break, BMC would have been able to leap frog the ProTour team in the standings.  “It was frustrating that the break wasn’t able to work cohesively enough for long enough to make it all the way,” Lill confirmed.  “It was another good day for the team as we were always attentive, but it would have been nice to take the team GC on a day like this.”  The 12 man break slipped away from the main peloton with Lill’s initial attack.  But carrying riders with it like Columbia’s sprint king, Mark Cavendish, meant that there was only a half-hearted commitment from many of the break members.  “At first everyone was working well together, but as guys started to get tired, they also started missing pulls,” Lill explained.  “But I wasn’t too concerned about having Cavendish along since he was having trouble keeping the pace up the early hills.”  Fatigue has begun to show in the peloton and today’s 5600 cumulative feet of climbing certainly put an extra sting into everyone’s legs.  “That main break looked like a good one to us since we had Darren and Brent in it, and there were no threats to the GC,” Gavin Chilcott explained.  “But a couple of teams who were not represented eventually formed enough of a chase which unfortunately brought the break back.”   Lill, riding with a little extra fire in the belly since he missed the break on Stage 4 that gained massive time on the peloton, attacked the break in an effort to stay away for the victory.  “I wasn’t really out for redemption, though winning the stage would have helped,” Lill said.  “But it is always important to try until the last moment.”  Having aggressively attacked and re-attacked, Lill was the last member of the group to be reeled in.  

Another top 10 for the young Swiss sprinter Wyss

With the break absorbed, thoughts turned to the finishing sprint.  Far from straightforward, the riders faced a quick descent followed immediately by a 300m kick up to the line.  But since the race ended with another series of circuits, this time around Jefferson City, the pack would have a chance to scope out the run up to the line.  “With the high speed and heat again today, I was feeling pretty tired,” Danilo confessed. “I had planned on leading out Tony Cruz, but he took a flyer with 3km to go, and when that didn’t work, he said I could do my own sprint.”  Danilo’s fast finish has brought him very close to several victories this season, and the team is just waiting for his breakthrough.  “Danilo put in a very strong sprint, and got the team another top10 finish which we can be very pleased with,” Lelangue said.  Wyss’ quick twitch muscles will most likely be called on again for the finish of Stage 6 into St. Charles on Saturday.  Though the beginning of the stage will be very hilly, the final 25 or 30 kilometers will be almost entirely flat, providing a sprinter’s paradise.  “Tomorrow will be similar to today, but in spite of the flat finish, we could see a good break make it to the line,” Darren Lill reasoned.  “We have had three very hard days in a row, and people will be tired; if we get the right combination for a break, it very well could go all the way.”  If history is anything to go by, at least one BMC rider will be present at the pointy end of the race Saturday.