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BMC'S Markus Zberg: leader of the break (foto by Tim De Waele)
BMC'S Markus Zberg: leader of the break (foto by Tim De Waele)

Zberg spends 100 miles in break during brutal day in California

17. February 2009

Santa Cruz

Local knowledge of the course proved to be crucial in Monday's stage from Sausalito to Santa Cruz.  Reversing his time deficit to Sunday's surprise winner Francisco Mancebo, Levi Leipheimer put in an inspired attack at the base of the final climb up the very steep Bonny Doon Road.  Up until that point in the race, BMC's Markus Zberg had been well-placed and looking strong in the 10 man breakaway. 

Climbing in the mist and rain, the breakaway shattered, while Leipheimer attacked the main peloton and picked off by ones and twos each member of the diminishing breakaway.  Garmin's Tom Peterson managed to latch onto Leipheimer's wheel and out-sprinted him to the line.  BMC's Ian McKissick and Thomas Frei finished in the second group with Scott Nydam close behind.

Attacking out of the gates

After stage 1 failed to go BMC's way, the team came back with an aggressive response on Tuesday.  "Yesterday certainly didn't go as planned, so today we definitely wanted to be represented in all the good breaks," General Manager Gavin Chilcott explained.  When the early break began to take shape on the streets of San Francisco, BMC was pleased to have had Swiss National Champion Markus Zberg among the protagonists.  "We were happy to have Markus in that break with 10 riders taking pulls; since the winner of the stage was a member of that break it was obviously a good one," Chilcott reasoned.  The wind and the cold certainly made it another hard day at the office for the riders.  "Today I had better legs especially when the sun came out to warm them up," Zberg described.  "Unfortunately that was only for a short moment, since I was having trouble with the cold." 

Selective Bonny Doon Road climb plays big part in stage

With the final climb coming around 12 kilometers from the finish, stage 2 offered an opportunity unique among the rest of this year's stages.  Being so close to the finish, the proximity of the Bonny Doon climb presented a prime chance for the strong climbers of the race.  "There was more of a selection going up that final climb than I thought there would be," Chilcott said.  "There was a splitting of the breakaway group and back in the field, Astana and Leipheimer powered that break-up of the main bunch which then splintered into several groups."  Before the decisive splits had been made, Zberg looked to be in a prime position for the stage if the breakaway group could keep it together over the climb.  "There were two ways to play it: either they needed to stick together and work to crest the climb together, or the riders with stronger climbing legs would need to gain time up the climb so that when the field caught them, they would be able to stick with the main group to the line," Chilcott explained.  "As it turned out the second of those scenarios is what worked, but only for the one rider from Garmin who ended up winning the stage."

Chipping away on route to fulfilling goals

"Today we did have a few successes that we could point to," Chilcott said.  "In addition to having Markus in the break, we had two riders in the second lead group along with Mancebo."  The team can feel confident with these performances, however, the overall goals will require more.  "Today was an improvement over yesterday which is good, but we are not yet where we want to be," Chilcott added.  "We're chipping away at it though."