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Tony Cruz: “The plan was to race aggressively from the beginning since most of the climbs came early.” (Foto by Tim De Waele)
Tony Cruz: “The plan was to race aggressively from the beginning since most of the climbs came early.” (Foto by Tim De Waele)

After playing dominant role in Twilight Criterium, BMC’s Tony Cruz wins Rochester Road Race and finishes 3rd overall

10. August 2008

Rochester

Having arrived in Rochester with a core group of strong sprinters and experienced journeymen, BMC entered the weekend of racing quietly confident that they could figure prominently in each stage. 

The team rode aggressively during the rainy Twilight Criterium Saturday night, placing three riders in the top 10.  But by coming away with the stage win, the King of the Mountains and the sprint leader’s jerseys for the third and final instalment of the 2008 Rochester Omnium, BMC could feel satisfied with their weekend efforts.

Martin Kohler and Tony Cruz power the winning break in soggy crit

“The guys rode very strongly in the Saturday night crit,” Gavin Chilcott said.  “Tony and Martin were in the breakaway that made it to the line.”  Saturday’s crit acted as a baptism by fire – or rather rain – for Martin Kohler since he had never ridden an American style criterium before.  The technical, 10-turn, night time criterium was a wet affair as the riders suffered through 2 hours of heavy rain.  “Martin wasn’t very happy with the racing conditions in the crit, I think it is safe to say,” Chilcott said.  “But he didn’t run away from the race at all; on the contrary, he rode it very aggressively and was at the front of the race the whole night.”  Regardless of how unused to the sort of racing he found in the typically fast, dangerous criterium, Kohler was able to finish 4th on the stage and moved himself into 5th place on the overall.  “Tony and I were in the lead group that had a 20-30 second lead on the main pack,” Martin explained.  “In the final couple of laps Tony worked really hard for me, but in the final lap there were so many attacks and the road was so slippery that I came into the last corner only in 7th position.  I managed to pass three guys before the finish line.”  Tony Cruz had committed himself to chasing down the racers who had gapped the break.  “We were working to get Martin on the podium but it’s so hard to race a crit in those conditions even if you are used to it,” Tony explained.  “Tony raced a very smart race, and Martin had a great sprint, so the evening went fairly well for us,” Chilcott concluded. 

Cruz shows his class in Rochester Road Race

After the evening criterium, the riders had to steal themselves for a short night since there was barely 12 hours between finishing the crit, and starting the road race.  The omnium scoring system offered an additional concern since the teams found themselves racing with different tactics in mind.  “The stage’s main break got away, but we only had Tony in that group, so it initially seemed like not an ideal situation for us,” Chilcott explained.  “The plan was to race aggressively from the beginning since most of the climbs came early,” Tony Cruz explained.  “I felt good, and made the selection over the biggest climb so there only ended up being four of us racing for the win.”  With teams thinking more along the lines of who had how many points, time gaps took on much less importance.  “Once that main break got away, the racing in the pack became kind of negative,” BMC’s tactics guru, Mike Sayers described.  “No one wanted to work.  On the main climb we started to chase a little as a team, but I realized that it would be better for us not to drag everyone closer to Tony’s group, and just let Tony ride his race and get as many points as possible.”  Riding tempo until the final circuits, Sayers and his BMC team mates policed the group while Tony Cruz worked to win as many spoils on the stage as possible.  “On the day’s main climb, Tony attacked and split up the break, and only 3 guys were able to go with him,” Chilcott said. “He won the Points jersey and the King of the Mountains jersey along the way and was able to win the four man sprint for the finish.”  An on-form Cruz found himself in a prime situation to go for the stage win, even if the overall was out of his hands.  “All four of us seemed strong, though I didn’t know how good in the sprint the other three guys would be,” Cruz explained.  “Coming into the finish I was fourth wheel and they were all watching me, so when I faked to swing right before the final corner, they moved that way, though I really accelerated left, taking the shortest line through the corner, and had a good gap to the finish with my hands in the air.”   Cruz’s remarkable day moved him up to third overall on the GC.  Add that to his two victories in the jersey classifications and a stage win and Tony will take a lot of confidence into his upcoming season objective: Downers Grove and the National Criterium Championship.