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Markus Zberg (right) well placed for a top finish in Picardie (foto by AbbiOrca.com)
Markus Zberg (right) well placed for a top finish in Picardie (foto by AbbiOrca.com)

BMC gives strong performance in fast, wet Picardie stage 1

15. May 2009

Roisel

Happy to be racing the Tour of Picardie in northern France for the second year in a row, BMC feels confident that they will be able to repeat the impressive performance from a year ago.   Having won the mountains classification in 2008, BMC has high hopes to improve on their overall position for this edition. 

They got off to a good start in the race Friday from Chaumont-en-Vexin to Roisel.  In spite of the chilly, rainy conditions, the stage was raced at an impressive 46,4 km an hour average.  BMC was well represented in all the day's best breaks, though at the finish, a lone flyer made by Vacansoleil's Lieuwe Westra won the stage by 28 seconds.  BMC's Markus Zberg and Mathias Frank finished in the first group of 30, keeping themselves well placed on the GC for the up coming stages.

Wind, rain and crashes plague stage

"Today was a really good stage for the team, though the day was very difficult with a lot of wind and rain and multiple crashes," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue explained.  "It was fast from the very beginning but we were intent on placing riders in the promising breakaways, and for the most part succeeded in doing just that."  The first big break to escape contained Jackson Stewart and looked like it had a good chance of working.  "Unfortunately, Cofidis and a couple of continental teams were not represented, so they chased hard and caught Jackson's group after a while," Lelangue explained.  Though the day started out fast and dry, it quickly evolved into a rainy slog at high speeds.  "We were able to race the first part of the stage in dry conditions, but unfortunately the second half of the stage was wet," Danilo Wyss, who also had a strong stage working for Markus Zberg, explained.  "We raced à bloc the whole day and had an average of over 45 km/h by the end of the stage!" 

Main break of 10 with 2 BMC riders

"Finally a strong break of 10 riders got away and we had Mathias Frank as well as Markus Zberg in that group," Lelangue was pleased to report.  "That was a really promising group since it also had riders like Robbie McEwen and Luis-Leon Sanchez there too; it was certainly an interesting break with a chance of making it."  However, Francaise des Jeux was not represented, and so worked hard to keep this break from gaining too much time.  "They managed to gain 2.30 on the chase group, but on the final lap a group of 20 riders caught the 10 escapees, which meant we had Markus, Mathias and Danilo in the front pack."  "There were a lot of great riders in that front group," Wyss said.  "The day was difficult with the rain and I devoted myself at the end of the race to give Markus a hand."  Though the lone stage winner managed to eke 28 seconds out of his escape, Zberg, Frank and Wyss are still well placed to challenge for a top spot in the GC over the next days.  "I am very happy about the team work today since we were always present at the front and always in the good moves," Lelangue said.  "Today was certainly a very difficult day, but the guys are all having a good time, so I am very happy with our situation."