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The podium with Nathan Miller (1st), Brent Bookwalter (2nd) and Fredy Rodriguez (3rd).
The podium with Nathan Miller (1st), Brent Bookwalter (2nd) and Fredy Rodriguez (3rd).

Ronde Van Brisbane - Race Report

2. April 2008

BMC fine-tuning for Redlands

One advantage of being based in one of the American meccas for cycling is that even normal weekend races often bring out the cream of the domestic racing crop.  This weekend in Northern California, the Santa Rosa based BMC Racing Team came out in force for the two day omnium race, Ronde Van Brisbeen in Brisbane, California.  With six team members being present, a victory was very much within the sights of BMC.  In fact, Brent Bookwalter soloed to victory in the criterium first stage while Nathan Miller and Brent finished 1-2 in the second stage, giving Brent an overall victory for the two days.

A race where the strongest guy wins

Anytime the BMC Racing Team enters a race such as the Ronde Van Brisbeen, the riders believe that they will be vying for victory.  “We had a very good weekend and the team rode very well both days,” Brent reported.  “Personally, it was gratifying evidence that all the hard work from the past year is finally paying dividends.”  Having broken his leg about a year ago, Brent has been on a long recovery road that finally seems to see him returning to the formidable racer and climber he had always been.  “This and Redlands are my first full races with the team, and it has been awesome,” Brent enthused.  For the stage 1 criterium, Brent and Jackson Stewart worked themselves into an early breakaway.  “We were working very well together,” Brent reported.  “I had it in my head that I would really be working for Jackson since he has a fast sprint, and I figured that the race would be ending in a sprint.”  But the continual attacks that Jackson and Brent forced on their rivals ended up wearing down the competition even before they reached the finish line.  “I was just able to sneak away, and win it solo,” Brent explained.  “It was the hardest I had ridden in a long time, and it was great to feel adrenaline like that again.”

Stage 2: Fast Forward, Repeat

The second stage of the Ronde Van Brisbeen omnium found BMC in a very similar situation.  This time it was Brent and Nathan Miller in the winning breakaway.  “The field was pretty decent with some Health Net guys and Freddie Rodriguez,” Nathan later recounted.  “And a small break of about 20 guys got away.”  BMC had three including Brent in the break, and most assumed that it would end up being the winning break.  “But to our surprise, the group was absorbed again,” Nathan said.  “The course was very hilly so there were constant attacks,” Nathan continued, “Brent went again and immediately got a good gap.  I followed as soon as the field had settled back a little.”  Nathan caught Brent and from there the two time trialled to the finish.  “The field made a mistake in letting us go like that since it was always going to be a hard course to catch a strong breakaway on,” Nathan reasoned.  “Brent was by far the strongest guy of the weekend, and I am a good climber too, so we had a very good chance of staying away.”  Though Freddie Rodriguez initiated a small chase group that separated from the main pack, he had to settle for third, while BMC’s Taylor Tolleson finished fourth and Scott Nydam won the field sprint for sixth.  When asked about the performance of the team, training consultant Charlie Livermore was philosophical. “We always encourage the guys to race whenever they can,” Livermore said.  “The fastest way to learn is racing, whether they are learning the tactics, or learning about their own limits.”  With the Redlands Bicycle Classic and the Tour of Romandie right around the corner, the BMC Racing Team will certainly be expecting some valuable learning experiences in the weeks ahead.