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Calm winds simplify Tour of Utah Stage 1 race tactics for BMC

13. August 2008

Nephi

The Tour of Utah kicked off Wednesday with a road race course that took the riders around the rolling landscape south of Salt Lake City.  This gradual start to the climbing bonanza that will mark much of the rest of the race to come gave the riders a chance to stretch their legs in anticipation of the big climbs on the horizon. 

BMC focused its attention on keeping the race under control while not committing too many resources.  Finishing comfortably in the pack just 20 seconds behind the winning breakaway, the BMC climbing specialists could feel confident about their day’s performance.

Monitoring events while metering out efforts

“Today turned out to be a pretty uneventful stage from a GC point of view,” General Manager Gavin Chilcott reported.  “If it had been a windy day, there could have been a big fight on the stage, but as it was, all the teams with GC ambitions rode calmly.”  The eventual stage winner came from a group of four riders who escaped the peloton and at one point had 6-7 minutes on the group as their largest time split.  “A break that we didn’t have a problem with got away from the group,” Chilcott said.  “We contributed to the chase in order that the break didn’t surprise us all and take real time out, but at the finish line the three remaining break companions had maybe 20 seconds on the group, so we were pleased with the day’s outcome.”  Utah resident and BMC climbing ace, Darren Lill agreed that the stage went very much according to plan.  “Three of our guys, Jonathan Garcia, Brent Bookwalter and Ian McKissick, rode at the front of the pack to contribute to the policing of the stage,” Lill explained.  “But since the break wasn’t threatening, I don’t think they rode for the last 25 miles since there was no reason to squash the break, and it became the job of the sprinters’ teams to bring it back.”  “Today was an exercise in metering out our efforts and conserving our resources,” Chilcott said.  “We used Jonathan, Brent and Ian to monitor the gap so we wouldn’t lose control, but we were careful not to overdo it.”  This tactic was adopted by many of the other GC teams including Toyota-United and Rock Racing.  “Today was an easily understood stage,” Chilcott concluded.  “In the absence of a strong wind everyone was thinking the same thing; tomorrow will be much more demanding and important.”    

Put on your climbing legs

The riders will not have to wait too long for the decisive stages to begin since Thursday’s Stage 2 will present them with four big climbs and a slight uphill kick to the finish.  “Tomorrow there are three really decent climbs, but the last big one comes about 27km for the finish,” Darren Lill explained.  “The ride into the finish is fairly flat, though it is uphill the last 150 meters.”  Since BMC has spent the past 10 days training together in Utah, they will have the advantage of knowing intimately each other’s form.  “We have ridden the courses which should benefit everyone at the end of the day,” Lill said.  “I have had a really good block of training since Cascade, and with the recent camp I have seen that everyone on the team is climbing extremely well.”  With the last big climb of the day tomorrow coming so far from the finish, the race tactics could become complicated.  “We will see how the day plays out: if there is a lot of wind then the lead group shouldn’t be too much bigger than 5-10 guys,” Lill predicted.  “Knowing how strong our team is, we should have several present in that group.”  The uphill sprint after a tough day of climbing will also figure heavily in the final outcome.  “Tomorrow suits me pretty well I think,” Lill continued.  “I can have a pretty good kick at the end of a stage like that, and if it is a larger group coming to the line together, we most certainly should have 4 or 5 guys there, so we will have a lot of options to play.”  Thursday’s road race will certainly give an indication of who should be considered a threat to the overall.