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Markus Zberg helped the team snag several top 10s at Romandie (foto by AbbiOrca.com)
Markus Zberg helped the team snag several top 10s at Romandie (foto by AbbiOrca.com)

Markus Zberg sprints to 7th, Mathais Frank gains time but remains in 12th overall

3. May 2009

Geneva

The final stage of the Tour de Romandie this year was too difficult to be called simply a celebratory promenade but too easy to affect any real changes to the overall general classification.  Realizing this at the outset, BMC established the goal of slipping one of their sprinters into a position to challenge for the sprint finish on the final straight in Geneva. 

Markus Zberg has been consistent in taking top positions in sprints throughout the year, and managed another top 10 finish for the team with 7th place today.  Mathias Frank looked for opportunities to gain time throughout the stage, even snagging one second in a mid-stage intermediary sprints, but his efforts would not be enough to gain the handful of seconds he needed to crack the top 10.  Nevertheless, the BMC Racing Team can feel very pleased about a successful week of cohesive racing in one of the top events on the ProTour calendar.  Oscar Freire of Rabobank won the day's sprint while Liquigas' Roman Kreuziger retained the overall lead.

Basically a day for the sprinters

"The day went really well looking to the results for the stage as well as the overall results, we can only be happy," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said.  "We had the best Swiss rider for the stage and Mathias is the best placed Swiss rider on the GC, so that is very important for us in a race like this."  Lelangue sent his troops out with a plan to preserve and if possible improve on their already satisfying results.  "We knew that some sprinters would have trouble getting over the big climb today, and that proved true with Cavendish getting dropped," Lelangue explained.  "But Markus did a great job over the climb and then made a good sprint."  With Columbia chasing hard to get Cavendish back to the front, Rabobank worked even harder to make sure Columbia never made the juncture.  "It was really fast during the last part of the stage since Rabobank didn't want Cavendish to compete in the sprint," Lelangue explained.  "But then it slowed down in the last couple kilometers which made for a crazy sprint with riders coming from the left, right and center.  That made it tough for Markus to know who to key off for the final acceleration." 

Cat 1 climb not enough to make impact

With the climb coming so far from the finish line, special tactics would have to be employed in order to have any chance at gaining some time.  "The idea was for me to get some bonification seconds in the intermediary sprints," Mathias Frank explained.  "I tried and actually gained a second in one of the sprints which didn't really help very much but at least I tried."  In the end the climb was not hard enough to thin out the GC field.  "Rabobank tried to make it hard so that Cavendish would be dropped," Frank said.  "But really the climb was not that hard which gave me little chance to move up."  Even if the goal at the beginning of the event was to enter the GC top 10, the BMC Racing Team cannot feel dissatisfied with Frank's efforts, finishing 1 second behind 11th placed Denis Menchov and 5 seconds behind 10th, Kanstantsin Siutsou who out-climbed Levi Leipheimer to win the Tour of Georgia in 2008.  "I'm pretty happy with 12th place, though we wanted top 10," Frank said.  "Top 12 isn't too bad either. And Markus was very good in the sprint today, getting 7th."  "Looking at the list of participants and then looking at the consistent results we were able to come away with, we can only be very satisfied with our performance," Lelangue said.  "This is our best stage race ever, and considering how prestigious it is, I think everyone from the organizers to the team sponsors to the staff and riders are happy."

Gaining confidence as a team

"For me it was very important to find out that I can ride at a high level consistently for a week long event like this," Frank said.  "It is a real confidence boost for me, and we'll see whether I can come back next year and improve on this place."  BMC's performances over the past week have also solidified their place in the top echelons of European racing.  "We have proved this week, I think, that we are not just a small team, but are in fact able to match the biggest teams move for move," Frank said.  "We are competing on the same level and gaining a lot of respect from the prominent teams; we have proved we belong here."   Looking back over the past several weeks' performances, Lelangue is confident that the team is moving in the right direction, fast.  "It is safe to say that ever since Sarthe, the European side of the racing has really stepped up to the level that we want to be at," Lelangue exclaimed.  "Everyone is effectively working for a leader and always here doing his job for the stage.  I think we can be very happy and confident in our future."