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BMC's best finsher: Scott Nydam. (Foto by Mark Adkinson)
BMC's best finsher: Scott Nydam. (Foto by Mark Adkinson)

Versatile course for a versatile rider

3. April 2008

Redlands Bicycle Classic

The long-established Redlands Bicycle Classic stage race got under way Thursday with a 5 km prologue which offered a challenging course, including a finish at the top of a hill with a 207 meter vertical ascent. 

This staple on the California racing calendar typically attracts the best racers and teams on the American circuit.  After narrowly missing out on an overall victory in 2007, the BMC Racing Team has arrived at the start of Redlands with a well trained group, hungry to build on recent successes.

A climbing heavy team, with a few fast finishers in the mix 

Having brought a team predominately of climbers, with three fast sprinters thrown into the mix, Team Manager Gavin Chilcott is hoping he has the right ingredients for a winning campaign.  “I really like this prologue course,” Chilcott reported while reconnoitring the new stage 1 road race around the city of Baumont.  “The prologue is a good course for a versatile rider who can handle repeated changes in tempo and gradient.”  BMC’s top finisher on the day was the red hot Scott Nydam.  “I’m pretty pleased with my ride,” Nydam said.  “The winning rides were very impressive, and though I’m 20 seconds down from the winner, the time gaps between the podium and the 25th rider are pretty close, so I’m pleased to be still in there for the fight.”  The ever-humble Nydam, though, found himself rethinking the race, wondering how he could have finished better.  “I’ve been going over in my head where I lost two seconds here, and another second there,” he said, “but you have to just realize that there is always room for improvement, and now we will hit the rest of the race with all our strength to get into real contention.”   

Small factors cost time, places

Though BMC had a pretty successful day, one of their main GC hopes did suffer a mechanical mishap.  “The team rode really well with Scott and Brent Bookwalter in the top 25,” Chilcott explained, “but we had some bad luck when Jeff Louder dropped his chain going into a corner,” but managed still to finish 38 seconds back, in the top 50 .  When asked how that might change the team’s tactics, Chilcott reasoned, “I don’t think it will change too much.  I would have liked for one of our seasoned guys to be in the top 10, but Scott was very close at 14th and without his thrown chain, Jeff would have been right in there too.”  Another small factor that may have impacted all the riders today was the cool weather, and the amount of time they were required to wait in the staging area before setting off on their rides.  “The air was heavy and cool today,” Chilcott explained.  “And the officials wanted the riders to be at the start line 10 minutes before their start time for the necessary bike measurements.”  Standing around for so long in the coolish weather after having warmed up probably introduced an extra little sting in the legs for many of the riders after they rolled down the start ramp.  “It’s not that big of a deal, but from the riders’ point of view, it wasn’t really ideal either,” Chilcott said.

An opportunistic, aggressive plan

Though the team still feels very much like it is riding for the overall, not having a rider in the top ten will open up other tactical options.  “We will play an opportunistic role now,” Chilcott said.  “Tomorrow’s stage, though it doesn’t favour the climbers as much as the old Oak Glen stage, it will provide an interesting tactical battleground.”  The amount of wind in the stage will play a huge factor.  “If there is a lot of wind, a breakaway could succeed, or we might have a bunch finish where Tony Cruz, Taylor Tolleson or Jackson Stewart could make a go for the victory,” Chilcott postulated.  Scott Nydam echoed these thoughts, “Ideally if there is a breakaway, we will want two or three guys in it.  If not, then we have the sprinters to make a stab for the stage.”   Realizing that the BMC Racing Team has had a very successful year of long breakaways already, it is understandable that their thoughts will be tending toward that vein again.