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Mathias Frank proving himself to be a capable time triallist as well as climber (Foto by Tim De Waele)
Mathias Frank proving himself to be a capable time triallist as well as climber (Foto by Tim De Waele)

Mathias Frank gives solid performance in Dauphiné time trial

10. June 2009


Facing what would be the longest time trial of their careers for many of the members of the young BMC squad, the riders started the day confident but with realistic goals. 

Since most of them had never ridden such a long time trial against such elite competition, it would be as much a learning experience as an attempt to keep at least one rider within striking distance of the top 10.  The stage was won by current World Time Trial Champion Bert Grabsch (Columbia-Highroad) with new race leader Cadel Evans coming in 7 seconds shy of the winning time.  The time gaps immediately started to grow with the third place finisher 40 seconds behind.  Mathias Frank was BMC's best finisher in 26th place, though only 2.22 back while Alex Moos lost only another 20 seconds on his teammate.

Windy course turned into day for the specialists

"We are pretty happy with how the guys rode today and especially pleased to see Mathias continually improving in his time trialling," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said.  "Mathias along with several of the other guys on the team do not have so much experience at racing these longer time trials, yet all of them were able to stay close together in time."  "It was brutal out there today," Brent Bookwalter said. "It was really windy on a pretty straight forward course.  The stage was basically split into two halves and there was not much change in rhythm the entire time."   A look at the top ten in the stage gives a good indication that the day turned into a race for the time trial specialists.  Even more revealing is a glance down the list of finishers outside of top 10 who are also supposed to be top performers in this disciple.  "Time trial days are always packed full and today was not different," Bookwalter said.  "There was a long transfer in the morning, then reconnoitre the course, then warm up, then race and in today's case, race for a long time!"  Alex Moos, Brent Bookwalter, Thomas Frei and Jeff Louder were all able to put in rides which will keep them in with a fighting chance when the road turns upward. 

Important experience for growing team

Experience is often a rider's greatest asset in a longer time trial, which can put first-timers at a disadvantage.  "The distance really took its toll on me, as well as my lack of experience with that distance in the time trial position," Bookwalter explained.  "I can't say it was one of my better days, but the experience I gained is essential.  And once I forget about the 50 minutes of pain, I will be looking forward to having another chance at a time trial like that!"  Bookwalter and his teammates are for the moment simply looking forward to the rest of the race: "I'm not sure what our plan will be for tomorrow and the coming days, but we'll be sure to regroup, put a solid plan in place and work hard to execute it.  Ventoux tomorrow will be another first for most of us which is daunting, but also exciting!"

Ready to face some epic climbing

With four days of mountainous racing, Frank's ride today puts him just a minute away from the top 10.  "Mathias is our best placed rider and Alex is close behind," Lelangue said.  "We will start the next phase of the race with those two as our protected riders while we can rely on Bookwalter, Louder and Frei to play the jokers in the deck."  Since all five riders are excellent climbers, any one of them could be in a position to gain time and places on the GC.  "This level of racing is always going to be difficult but I am pretty happy with how well so many of our guys are placed," Lelangue said.  "And looking to the climbing in the next stages, serious time gaps are bound to open up.  Even the best riders can lose 3 minutes or more by the top of Ventoux."  Since barely 3 minutes separate the top 50 riders now, there will surely be a lot of wiggle room for BMC's five best-placed climbers.