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Jeff Louder happy to be a leader on the team (Photo by Georges Luechinger).
Jeff Louder happy to be a leader on the team (Photo by Georges Luechinger).

Jeff Louder wins stage, takes over race lead at Redlands

27. marzo 2009

Beaumont

After having succeeded the day before in placing so many riders within half a minute of the overall lead, the BMC Racing Team entered the Beaumont Circuit Race in a tactically strong position.  Though stage 1 of Redlands is over 150km long, it was clearly still going to be a race of seconds. 

Working himself into a 4 man breakaway with just a handful of kilometers left in the race, Jeff Louder won the stage and gained enough time in order to leap from 5th to 1st overall.  He also earned the Points Jersey for his day's efforts.

Change in the wind

As the course around Beaumont is quite exposed, the general assumption was that the wind would be a major player in the race.  "When we previewed the course the night before, there was a very strong cross wind and we made our plans accordingly," General Manager Gavin Chilcott explained.  "But on race day, it had changed to being either a head or tail wind for the longer sections of the route."  With those wind conditions, it becomes much harder to break the race apart.  "Depending on what direction we were riding, our speed could be 70 or 80 km on the flat or 25 km, the wind was so strong," Jeff Louder said.  "That sort of negates a lot of attacking space since it is hard to get a gap in either situation, but it does make the racing fast, interesting and scary."  Perhaps the biggest effect the wind had was to sap the strength of Fly-V, the team defending the race lead.  "That head wind made it really tough on Fly-V," Louder believed.  "Going into the final climb, they were really hammering it, and even Ben Day was pulling."

Major selection on final climb

"The main group went into the last climb very fast, powered largely by Fly-V," Chilcott said.  "Their effort whittled down the field to around 15 guys, which played perfectly to our plans."  Positioning in the wind had a big role in deciding who still had a chance at victory.  "The group that came to the final climb was vastly depleted, and it was not easy to keep up if you didn't have a good position," Louder explained.  The nervous racing engendered by the tough wind did in fact play into the hands of Louder who was determined to make the most of the situation.  "After we crested the climb and hit the false flat just after the descent, Peter Stetina had gapped the group a little but in doing so had isolated himself in a headwind," Louder explained.  "I knew that was the moment I had to make something happen so I rode into a block head wind for 300 or 400 meters to bridge up." 

The twosome becomes a foursome

Stetina and Louder were joined by strongmen Tom Zirbel and Will Routley.  A change of direction in the course meant that the foursome was working in a cross wind.  All four were determined to make the break work till the line.  "We had a good gap and with the cross wind and four strong guys working together, we had at least as good of a pace as the pack behind us playing a bit of gutter ball with each other," Louder said.  The depleted, exhausted peloton behind was in no condition to reel in the four man breakaway group containing some of the strongest riders in America today.  "I was with three really strong guys who wanted to make this break go to the line," Louder explained.  "The four of us did equal work, and Zirbel took some pretty amazing pulls."  With 3 kilometers to go, it looked like the break was going to stick, and Louder began to consider how he could win the stage.  "There was a final turn with 250 meters to go, and we would be riding with a tail wind, so it was really down to who could get the jump first," Louder explained.  "I was third wheel, and though I'm not a great sprinter, I have a pretty good acceleration and I was able to hold it to the line." 

Able leader

Moving seamlessly into the role of a race leader as well as team leader, Louder has confidence in himself and the confidence of the team.  "Jeff has really stepped up into the leadership role, keeping the guys focused and riding as a team," Chilcott said.  "He is helping to show them how to consolidate their efforts and now they can work to protect the jersey."  "We have always believed in ourselves, and I have 100% confidence in our team," Louder said.  "We are well prepared and well supported, so without sounding cocky, I think we have a good shot at making this work."