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General Manager Gavin Chilcott is "pushing" Danilo Wyss back to the race. (Photo by Tim De Waele)
General Manager Gavin Chilcott is "pushing" Danilo Wyss back to the race. (Photo by Tim De Waele)

Tour of Qatar Stage 3

29. January 2008


Punctures and a crash mar the stage again for the BMC Racing Team

In today’s 147.5km stage from the Camel Race Track to the Qatar Foundation, the racers from BMC accomplished many of their stated goals, but were hampered again by bad luck in the form of ill-timed punctures and the late-stage crash of Swiss rider Steve Bovay.

“With such strong winds and fast courses, crashes are bound to happen, but perhaps two in two days is a little beyond the random risk factor,” Team Manager Gavin Chilcott said after the race.  “With Steve Bovay, this is the second day in a row that I have spent the post race in the hospital,” Chilcott explained.  “Luckily Scott Nydam turned out to be only superficially injured, but Bovay has a broken collarbone and will have to go home to Switzerland as soon as possible.”

How the stage unfolded

“For the first 30 or 40 km, it was quite slow,” explained Directur Sportif, John Lelangue.   “A few riders, including Danilo Wyss tried to get in a breakaway, but the race was completely controlled by the strong teams like Quick Step.”  Though a small break gained 10 minutes at one point early on, the race became much more explosive when it changed direction, and the wind, initially a mild head wind, became a strong cross wind.  “With the wind change, and a curvy section of road, many attacks happened, and three groups resulted,” Chilcott described.  “Tony Cruz did a good job of getting into the first main group, which had a really good composition, and it looked like it might go all the way.”  But again an unfortunate flat forced Cruz out of the main group and into the second group.  “Now that the second group had Tony and several other BMC riders, we worked with the other teams to catch the lead group,” Lelangue explained.

Playing catch-up and crashing riders

Though the second group with Tony Cruz and several other BMC riders was able to catch the lead echelon, guaranteeing a mass sprint to the finish, the team suffered a late-stage setback.  “Less than 10 km from the finish a rider crashed right in front of Steve, and there was no where for him to go,” Lelangue explained.  Bovay, uncertain of his condition, decided to finish the race to have the option of starting the next stage.  Gavin Chilcott emphasised what a loss it is for the team since Bovay was riding much stronger than anyone had anticipated, “even though Qatar was not a targeted race for Steve, he has been exceptional.  We will aggressively treat his collarbone so that he will lose as little of his condition as possible.”

Silver-lined finish

“Since we managed to get Tony back into the main group, and he lost no time on the GC, we are content with the outcome of the stage,” Lelangue said.  “It was a very tricky sprint with a U-turn 600 meters before the finish, and we are pleased that no time gaps formed.”  With Cruz sitting in 23rd overall barely a minute back, the team can still play a GC card in addition to their stage ambitions.  “The team is placed in the top ten and tomorrow is a good stage for us.  All teams are dealing with punctures and crashes.  We are confident and pleased with our guys and are optimistic for the rest of the race,” Lelangue said.