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Chad Beyer riding hard for the team (foto by Tim de Waele)
Chad Beyer riding hard for the team (foto by Tim de Waele)

BMC works to keep race together in Gila's stage 2

1. May 2009

Silver City

Though the Tour of the Gila's second stage finished in a bunch sprint, the undulating course with three categorized climbs nearly conspired to blow the race apart.  Levi Leipheimer held onto the leader's jersey after Sebastian Haedo took the sprint. 

BMC was instrumental in helping to hold the race together after a dangerous break which included Floyd Landis (OUCH) and Shawn Milne (Team Type 1) managed to gain considerable time on the Astana-lead pack.  Not wanting the race to slip away from under their noses, BMC helped Astana reign in the break, effectively keeping the GC race open for the bigger battles ahead.

Flutter of attacks shake things up

"The guys had another strong day, but with only three riders, we have to be careful how we pick and chose our battles," team director Mike Sayers explained.  The domestic teams' constant attacking seems to be looking for the chink in the Astana and BMC armour.  "The premier break went straight away as the stage started right off the bat with two Cat 3 climbs," BMC's Scott Nydam recounted.  "There were a bunch of attacks trying to bridge up, but Lance and Horner were on the front to bring everything back together."  A few of the riders who initiated the break were able to separate themselves again, to be followed by a flurry of additional attacks.  "Peter Stetina attacked in the 1st feed zone near the top of the second climb," Nydam said.  "Florian and Chad countered along with Levi and Chris Bladwin, and that looked like it was going to be a really good move."  With Stalder and Beyer in a move with the race leader, teams not represented had to dig deep to shut down the break.  "It was a really technical descent off the second climb, so things came back together by the time we hit the valley," Nydam explained.

Dangerous break slips away

"When we were in the valley between the 2nd and 3rd climb, things calmed down after a small group of guys got away," Nydam said.  "It was a diverse group with four different teams represented by some of their best riders like Floyd Landis and Shawn Milne."  Having riders up the road meant that full-strength teams like Ouch and Garmin had no need to chase the lead group.  Lance Armstrong and Chris Horner were not about to drag the whole pack through that valley single-handed, so if BMC didn't want to see their GC hopes slip away, they were going to need to take some responsibility for the chase.  "Helping out meant that we had to sacrifice one of our guys for the chase, but not helping out would have meant that Lance and Horner would have pulled the pin all together and then we still would have had to chase," Nydam reasoned.  "Chad Beyer said he didn't mind working, so he and Horner basically reeled in the break entirely on their own."  "I of course wanted our guys to take it as easy as possible today to save energy for the time trial on Friday," Sayers explained.  "So we decided to sacrifice the possible stage win today with the bigger picture in mind."  Once they had brought the escape group back within a reasonable time gap, other teams started to lend a hand.  "We finally caught the last two riders and with about 3 km to go the group was all together again."

Taking the reigns today should pay dividends later in the race

"It's a bit of a shame that Chad had to work so hard because this would have been a perfect finish for him to win," Nydam said.  "But after pulling all through the valley the edge had been taken off his sprint."  The difficulty of the race overall perhaps cowered the smaller teams, dissuading them from investing too much effort too early in the event.  "We'll know more after the time trial, but I think no one wanted to work too hard since everyone knows the last stage in particular will be very difficult," Nydam said.