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Florian Stalder showing he has good end of the season form (foto by AbbiOrca.com)
Florian Stalder showing he has good end of the season form (foto by AbbiOrca.com)

Florian Stalder and Danilo Wyss survive a couple of tough Northern European races

20. settembre 2009

Pas-de-Calais

Though pancake flat, one-day hard-man races in Northern Europe have as yet not developed into a specialty for the BMC squad, even the team's pure climbers have succeeded in staying competitive over terrain which has always acted as the professional cyclist's proving ground. 

Friday's Championships of Flanders 182 kilometer semi-classic circuit race around the Flanders region in Belgium has been an event for over a hundred years now, and can boast the biggest names in the history of cycling on its honor list of winners.  The riders saw a day of fast, challenging racing.  Though separated from the winning lead group, Stalder and Wyss stayed strong enough to finish in the main peloton.  The team followed-up Friday's race by competing on Sunday in the Grand Prix d'Isbergues 200 kilometer circuit race around the Pas-de-Calais.  Again Stalder and Wyss were the best finishers for the team. 

Tough pace, super fast racing in Flanders

"The race Friday in Flanders was very tough," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said.  "We lost four riders very early on, but our remaining four, Danilo Wyss, Florian Stalder, Ian McKissick and Martin Kohler, did a very good job fighting under the conditions."  The first hour was raced at an average speed of over 47 kilometers an hour, which had everyone on his limit.  At a critical moment in the race, there was a separation in the peloton which forced BMC to chase and close the gap.  "Martin and Ian did a great job closing the gap to make certain that Danilo and Florian were still with the leaders," Lelangue explained.  "So they were well placed in the final group of about 60 riders, but it did mean we only had two riders to contend with the constant attacking."  With attacks flying left and right off the front group of 60, Wyss and Stalder were quickly overwhelmed with trying to keep tabs on everyone who was dangerous and getting away.  "They both rode very strongly and did their best," Lelangue said.  "But since we only had the two guys in a group of 60, it just wasn't enough to stay in with a chance to win."  Wyss agreed with this assessment.  "It was very difficult and when there are only two riders from the same team in a group that size, it is practically impossible to control that race," he said. 

Moving back to the collines of Northern France

Part of the Coupe de France racing series, the Grand Prix d'Isbergues returned to the type of hilly terrain where BMC excels.  However, the day started off with a necessary reduction in their numbers.  "We had to start the race short-handed because Alex Moos became sick overnight and was unable to start the event," Lelangue said.  "That made us only seven.  And then after barely 10 kilometers of racing, Ian McKissick had a potentially serious crash where his head took the brunt of the impact."  Though McKissick did not suffer any serious injuries, the nature of the crash meant that BMC took the precaution of sending him to the hospital.  "Ian was okay, but since he fell on his head it was more important to make sure there was no serious injury, and we pulled him from the race at that point," Lelangue explained.  Left with only six riders and 190 kilometers to go, the team would have its work cut out.  "The racing again was very fast and the first hour was done at a 49.6 kilometer per hour average speed," Lelangue said. 

Stalder makes the cut

"With about 80 kilometers to go, a group split off the front of the pack, and we had Florian in that selection," Lelangue said.  "They got a maximum of around one and a half minutes on the rest of the peloton."  As the finish line approached, the lead group was steadily being reeled in by the remaining pack.  "A group of 12 separated from the front of the lead pack, and unfortunately Florian wasn't able to stay with them," Lelangue said.  "This group of 12 finished 10 seconds ahead of the chasing peloton which also contained Danilo Wyss and Steve Bovay for our team."  With fatigue, illness, injury and motivation now playing a big role in the lives of every racer, BMC will be hoping to finish the year off with a successful final few races.  "After Worlds next weekend, we will be racing at Circuit Franco Belge and then finish with Paris-Tours," Lelangue said.  "This week hasn't gone as we would have hoped, but we will now work towards finishing off the year with a good performance in two very important races."