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Recent BMC wins breed confidence for Nationals

30. August 2008

Santa Rosa

With arguably the most important one day race of the US calendar coming up on Sunday, the BMC Racing Team is making sure that they are leaving no stone unturned in preparation for the National Road Race in Greenville. 

“The US PRO road race championship is a major objective for the team,” Gavin Chilcott explained.  “Virtually the entire team is in good form, so this is a race for us to enter with a winning mindset.”  Fresh off wins in Rochester and Utah, BMC can be happy with their run of recent successes, and will have a deep talent pool to pull from throughout the race.

Complicated strategies define national championships

“We have arrived here as a team a few days early so that the guys can get acclimated to the humidity, and reconnoitre the course a bit,” Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said.  “We’ve come with nine riders so we’ll have a numerical advantage over some other teams; but national championships whether they are in Belgium or France or the US are always strategically unique because some teams will have 12 or 14 riders, while other teams will only field 2 or 3.”  With confidence and motivation running high, the group exudes a palpable belief in themselves.  “Without being too cocksure, we have an expectation to do well in this event,” recent Tour of Utah winner, Jeff Louder said.  “I feel like I have recovered well from Utah, and the rest of the guys have also been riding so strongly that there is a real belief among the guys that BMC should pull off a good result.” 

The course should also play to the climbing strengths of the team.  “For an East Coast race, the Greenville parcours suits me pretty well,” Louder explained.  “Of course my dream nationals course would be at altitude in the dry mountains, but I think that this is really a great course where the best man wins.”  For BMC’s Brent Bookwalter, the race around Greenville is the next best thing to a home town event.  “I have been living in North Carolina for the past couple of years, so I am really motivated to do well here,” Bookwalter explained.  “It is a high priority for the team, everyone is in good form and I am just hoping that I can have another day like in Utah where I was really able to open my legs up for the first time in over a year.”  Bookwalter broke his femur in 2007, but has regained his form this season, recently finishing 5th in the Tour of Utah.  “Stage 4 in Utah was a great day for the team, but it was personally very special to me,” he confided.  “That climb was just so special, where I was suffering, but the good kind of suffering – the kind of feeling that justified all those hours upon hours of physiotherapy.” 

Working as a team to win for BMC

“We’ve brought a confident, strong team to the race,” Lelangue reiterated.  “For us, the most important thing will be to have a BMC rider finish at the front of the race, whether it is Jeff or Brent or Tony or Ian or whoever, the team is really clicking, and willing to work for each other.”  Without a marquee name on the roster, BMC has the advantage of arriving quietly at the event.  “We always start a race to win,” Lelangue explained.  “If we aren’t too marked in the peloton, that’s all the better for us.”  Louder agreed, “It plays to our ends to be the underdog and is motivating for me.  We work well as a team when we are racing for our own goals and not for anyone’s expectations.”  Similar to their extensive preparation for the Tour of Utah, BMC has arrived in Greenville several days early and is carefully studying the various race scenarios.  “Gavin has a lot of confidence in the team and encourages us to be as prepared as possible,” Louder said.  “It is the way we went into Utah, and that turned out well; I believe it is always smart to educate yourself about the course, competition, climate, and things like that.” 

Team pinched by injured reserve

BMC will be fielding nine instead of eleven riders since two of its strongest team contributors are still battling injuries.   Scott Nydam broke his collarbone in the Tour of Utah, and though that injury has healed well, it seems he had also broken a rib, which has been giving him hassle, and will now keep him from racing in Greenville.  “The collarbone is okay, but unfortunately I won’t be racing because of a broken rib,” Nydam reported.  Taylor Tolleson has also been recovering from a broken collarbone. He finally had surgery on it over two weeks ago, but three days into his training regime after the operation, he was hit by a car.  “I took a week off for the surgery, and then on my third ride back I was hit by a car!” Tolleson said.  “There was no real damage, but I had to take another week off because I did have a huge haematoma on my leg – man that thing was the size of a baseball!”  Though the absence of these two cornerstones of the BMC program will be felt, there is still great depth in the team’s ranks.  “I’m excited to have so many of the guys together again for the first time in several months,” Bookwalter said.  “I haven’t seen Jackson since Leelanau.  Everything is clicking with the team, so I definitely have the fire in the belly and motivation to race hard.”