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A day of tactical racing

4. April 2008

Baumont

The Redlands Bicycle Classic stage 1 circuit race around the town of Baumont found the BMC Racing Team with their noses in the wind chasing the main breakaway. 

“Today was a good race with a quality, though not very selective course,” Gavin Chilcott reported at the end of the stage.  “Unfortunately we narrowly missed the main breakaway which meant that we spent a lot of time on the front of the group chasing to keep in the game.” 

BMC’s Jeff Louder helped initiate a break, then missed the final selection

The day’s winner emerged from a six man breakaway group which had separated itself from six other companions off the front of the main peloton.  “Jeff initiated a move of about 12 riders,” Chilcott explained.  “But then when on the climb, he had just done some work, peeled off the front, and the six man winning group went just at that time.”  Confident in his legs, Louder had helped form the breakaway, but a poorly timed pull on the front cost him the oomph he needed to attach himself to the final selection.  “I felt really well today and wanted to set something up,” Louder recounted.  “I managed to set it up, but I didn’t manage to take advantage of my hard work!”  Tactical bobbles notwithstanding, the team does not have to worry about its condition.  “Jeff was very strong today, and did everything he could,” Chilcott said.  “Missing the main break was a bit of a tactical mistake, but sometimes you can’t always anticipate these things.”  When asked whether the stage 1 change of venue this year hurt or helped his chances, Louder said, “If I had made the break, I would have loved the stage of course!  But seriously, I think it was an interesting course with good climbs that suit my physical characteristics better perhaps than the mountain top finishes.” 

A laid back peloton influenced the outcome

The breakaway group had the advantage of containing riders from several different teams, effectively reducing the number of allies BMC had to help chase.  “Toyota and Rock Racing saw that it was a good break for their GC chances,” Chilcott explained.  “But I would have anticipated seeing Health Net, who also missed the move, to play a more controlling role.”  As it was, the breakaway was allowed to rack up a 5 minute lead at one point.   “We put Steve Bovay and Nathan Miller on the front to keep the time difference more manageable,” Chilcott revealed.  “Eventually we even stuck Jackson Stewart up there, and brought the deficit down to around 40 seconds at the top of the last climb, though by the finish it was around a minute.”  With the peloton sprinting for 7th, Louder agreed that some of the teams could have made a more commanding effort.  “I think Health Net was a bit too nonchalant today and gave the break way too much rope,” Louder said.  “That break was full of a bunch of really strong guys, so it was always going to be hard to bring them back.”

What’s ahead

Though the race thus far has not exactly gone BMC’s way, the quality of the riders means that ambitions are still high.  “All the guys are definitely riding strongly,” Chilcott said.  “However, we’re not inclined to push anymore for the GC.”  With a classic American criterium Saturday less suited to their capabilities, the team will focus on showing their strengths instead during Sunday’s difficult road race.  “We’ll be serious Sunday about going for the stage,” Chilcott predicted.  “We have Tony or Taylor of course for the crit, but we’ll be very focused to make our mark Sunday.”  “We are a young team still getting to know each other,” Jeff interjected, “But we are one of the bigger teams here, so there is more of an onus on us to perform,” jokingly he added, “Tony (Cruz) and I will have to help whoop these young guys into shape – before they whoop us!”