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Darren Lill worked in the first break of the day, but wasn’t able to hook onto the group that formed for the second. Foto: Tim De Waele
Darren Lill worked in the first break of the day, but wasn’t able to hook onto the group that formed for the second. Foto: Tim De Waele

On Verbier ascent Alex Moos stays close to leaders, preserves his Top 15 place

19. June 2008


The second of three major mountain top finishes, the stage to Verbier was book ended by two huge categorized climbs.

The 188 km stage opened with the hors category 28 km long Nufenenpass.  After the long descent, the riders rolled through the valley roads for around 80 km before hitting the base of the day’s final Cat 1 climb to the ski station at Verbier.   BMC’s Alex Moos stayed with the leaders for much of the climb, only being separated once the real battle for the leader’s jersey took hold.  He minimized his losses and will keep his high overall position heading into the weekend of racing.

Challenging profile, good ride for team

With the day beginning on a beyond category climb, the race tactics would split into two camps: the race for the lead, and the race for the stage, though at the end of the day the stage winner and race leader would indeed be the same man.  A large group of riders slipped off the front of the peloton to battle for the King of the Mountain points at the top, and hoped to survive until the final climb with a shot at the stage win.  “The first climb was definitely too far away from the finish to have any real impact on the riders who would ultimately be racing for the overall victory,” Gavin Chilcott reasoned.  “So tactically it was not a dramatically different day than some of the other days with non-threatening breakaways; the early climb did make the race harder for the guys who would spend the day working for their team leaders.”  BMC did not figure in the main break of the day, so they were able to focus entirely in working for Moos.  “Darren Lill worked in the first break of the day, but wasn’t able to hook onto the group that formed for the second,” Lelangue explained, “Once that break was over the top of the first climb, it was no longer interesting to try and bridge up, so we remained focus on Alex.”  The long flat section in the stage was made tricky by the strong winds in the valley.  “It was always a head wind or cross wind in the valleys, so the team was paying close attention to keeping Alex out of the wind and not allowing him to be caught out by any echelon gaps that may have formed,” John Lelangue said.  “The guys did a very good job in protecting Alex and getting him into the right position for the final climb.”   The inevitable fireworks started on the lower slopes of Verbier, and Moos’ tenacity kept him well within shouting distance of the main contenders. “I am fairly content with my rider today,” Moos said.  “It was not possible for me to go harder as I was already going as hard as I could.”  With Moos consistently finishing at or near the front, BMC is confident and excited to throw all their resources behind the man from Miège.  

A sprinter’s day followed by the Klausenpass time trial

“Alex has been battling a sore throat the past couple of days, and that always adds to the difficulty of a race like this,” Lelangue said.  “But we will definitely keep the pressure on, be careful tomorrow to keep Alex as fresh as possible, and work for Martin in the sprint finish.”  Thoughts naturally turn to the individual time trial which will come on Saturday.  “It should be a good stage for Alex, as he more suited to hill climb time trials than to flat power time trials,” Chilcott said.  “A top 10 is always an objective for a team of our size, but even preserving his current position would not be a trivial result for us in a ProTour event.”  “It is difficult for me to predict now how I will feel or perform in the tt,” Moos said.  “It will be a difficult race for everyone, though, and I will just do my best and wait to see how the results come.” 

The team’s crash course in ProTour racing

The Tour of Switzerland is the most demanding race on the BMC calendar this season, and has provided the team and management with insights into future goals.  “This race, along with Romandie and a few others of the major European races that we have done this year, have made it possible for our younger guys to see just where they need to be in order to grow into their strengths at this level,” Chilcott reasoned.  “They are experiencing first hand what the level of racing is, and learning how to protect a leader; all of these lessons will be essential to their growth as elite athletes.”