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BMC riders still feel strong in one of the team's final races of the season (foto by Tim de Waele)
BMC riders still feel strong in one of the team's final races of the season (foto by Tim de Waele)

Another field sprint caps off slow day at Franco Belge

2. October 2009

Poperinge

That the second stage of the Circuit Franco Belge ended in another mass sprint is not from lack of trying to split up the field.  An early small break of three riders slipped away only to be caught with 50 kilometers remaining, while late in the stage, multiple promising escapes were attempted. 

However, the Garmin-led peloton managed to control the attacks, opening the door for the race leader to take his second consecutive stage win.  Fighting a head wind most of the day, the stage was raced at an unusually slow pace with the first several hours averaging around 30 kilometers per hour.  The BMC sprinters worked hard to stay in position for the sprint, but in the end the road furniture frustrated their attempts. 

Long, slow day

Since similar tactics regarding breakaways suited both stage one and stage two, there was little point in entering small escape groups.  The Garmin team of the sprinter and race leader Tyler Farrar was certain to fight hard to see that the day ended in another bunch gallop.  Once the small group of four slipped away, the peloton was content to roll along with little animation.  “It was really very calm in the pack today,” the team’s designated sprinter Danilo Wyss explained.  “It was actually pretty peculiar that the pace was so slow for the first two or three hours.”  In spite of the slow speeds, the pack still managed to keep the escaped quartet well within sight, finally reeling them in with 50 kilometers remaining.  “Today’s scenario was very similar to yesterday’s and with a similar result,” Wyss said.

Setting up for the sprint

With the day’s main breakaway nullified with still quite a bit of racing to do, the last part of the stage became much more animated. The late race attacks never threatened to penetrate Garmin and the other sprinter’s teams iron grip on the day.  Coming into the final kilometers, positioning for the sprint became hotly contested.  “With about two kilometers to go, I had to take a detour around a traffic island which ended up losing me a ton of positions,” Wyss said.  “This meant that I never was in a good position for the sprint.  That is really a shame since my legs felt very good and I’m sure I would have been able to finish higher than my 27th place today.”  With just two more stages to go and 148 riders separated from the race lead just by twenty seconds, it seems likely that a rush to break the strangle-hold of the sprinters will be attempted.  “We know that there have to be separations in the peloton,” John Lelangue explained.  “We will work for that just like everybody else.”