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After a day of being drenched, BMC riders ready for some recovery time
After a day of being drenched, BMC riders ready for some recovery time

Having missed the selection, BMC refocuses goals

16. February 2009

Santa Rosa

On a route that has been touted as perhaps the most beautiful of the whole 2009 edition, the riders saw very little through fogged up glasses and the spray of rain off the back wheel of the man in front of them.  Since the race ended in Santa Rosa which acts as BMC's headquarters, the team had high hopes of showing off their strengths on familiar roads. 

Unfortunately, the day did not go as planned, and the team completely missed out on the early break and the elite selection which formed later in that stage.  Rock Racing's Francesco Mancebo put in a jaw-dropping all day attack which amazingly ended only when he won the stage over two sprinting opponents.  An elite group of 17 which contained half the Team Astana including race favourites Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong, finished the day 2 minutes back while the rest of the peloton rolled into Santa Rosa over 5 minutes behind the winner.

Though we lost this battle, we're still in the war

"We didn't make the break first thing in the day, and then we didn't make the selection near the end of the stage, which is really too bad, especially since Santa Rosa is our headquarters," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue ruminated.  "But I told the guys that we just need to turn the page and move on especially since this is just page 1 of this event."  Being well acquainted with the course, the team already knew what to expect topographically from the day, and the forecasts of cold and rain would ensure of very tough day on the bicycle.  But no one knew exactly what would transpire on the road.  "We knew that we were in for a tough ride, but it was even harder than we thought it was going to be," BMC's Scott Nydam explained.  "Right when the weather was getting really bad for the second KOM climb, it seemed Astana could sense that a lot of the pack was done in, and they just drilled it." 

Attrition rate intense with the weather

With the rain and fog making it difficult to see what was happening and the steepness of the climb making it difficult to judge how many riders were ahead, BMC lost the plot at a crucial point in the stage.  "We did the best we could to keep Jeff, Alex, Ian and Markus in good position in order to stay with the leaders in the finale, but shoot, we just missed it," Nydam explained.  "Afterwards, we did put in a hard pursuit with Columbia but we were never able to reel Levi's group back in."  For a day that everyone had predicted to be a golden sprinter's opportunity, the leader board and casualty list will be a surprise to all the pundits.  "On paper, it really did look like it would not fit into a team's plans to try and rip the race apart," Nydam said.  "And with dry weather, it very well could have come down to a sprint, but with the high level of attrition and the strength of Astana in particular, the predictable didn't happen." 

Moving forward, bouncing back

"It is never good to dwell too much when these set backs happen," Lelangue declared.  "I have complete confidence in my riders and in the whole staff so I know we will come out fighting and win the next battle."  Lelangue can feel very confident in his team because he knows the depth of talent and commitment that all the riders possess.  "I have no reproach for our guys; now it is time to move forward and totally refocus our tactics," Lelangue explained.  Though he is reluctant to give details, there will obviously be a big fire in the collective BMC belly on Monday morning.  "We always go out to race aggressively and we won't change that, but we have some plans and I know the guys will be able to follow through with them."  After an a-typically disappointing day for the team, there is little doubt in the BMC camp that the team spirit will inspire some outstanding rides in the days ahead.