Please choose your territory and language
International, English

team news

Thor Hushovd (left) conceded 1:36 on Stage 1 while Philippe Gilbert (center) is only 15 seconds off the race lead. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)
Thor Hushovd (left) conceded 1:36 on Stage 1 while Philippe Gilbert (center) is only 15 seconds off the race lead. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)

Haut Var, Stage 1: Tough Start

18. February 2012

La Croix Valmer, France

A tough, nervous day on the BMC Racing Team's first European race day tested former world champion Thor Hushovd and Belgian national champion Philippe Gilbert.

No Help To Chase

Tactics for the BMC Racing Team were clear at the start of the 189.2-kilometer race: maintain control of the race, keep breakaways within reach and protect the squad's designated sprinters. "We asked the guys this morning to protect Hushovd for the stage and Gilbert for the GC (general classification) and to leave Manuel Quinziato free so that he could be the last lead out man for them," BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said. But the race turned out to be more nervous than expected, with tricky roads and a breakaway group of eight riders who rode out a 10-minute lead at one point. "We had nobody in the good breakaway, it was expected that we stay in the peloton to control the race and that's what we did for 30 kilometers," Gilbert said. "But we received no help from other teams. We thought the French would lend a hand, but we had to go it alone." On the final six-kilometer lap, there were only two men still in front from the break, with Romain Hardy (Bretagne-Schuller) grabbing the stage victory. Calling it a solid test of his fitness, Gilbert said he felt good to be "in the same condition as last year at the same period." Sunday's final stage is a more challenging 205.4 km race featuring a tough uphill finish in Fayence.