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Steve Bovay and his BMC teammates are using their best late season form at Franco Belge (foto by Tim de Waele)
Steve Bovay and his BMC teammates are using their best late season form at Franco Belge (foto by Tim de Waele)

Wyss and Bookwalter stick with the lead group in Franco Belge third stage

3. October 2009


Contrary to the calmness which has ruled the previous two days of racing, stage three at the Circuit Franco Belge was raced in extremely windy conditions which continually buffeted the riders. 

Though the winds managed to shred the peloton into pieces, very little movement resulted at the front end of the leader board.  Tom Boonen of Quick Step put an end to Tyler Farrar’s winning streak, though the American from Garmin did manage to retain the overall lead.  BMC’s Danilo Wyss and Brent Bookwalter succeeded in keeping their positions in the main peloton, laying the groundwork for what will certainly be a hotly contested final stage on Sunday.

Wind, wind and more wind

“Today was a big fight in the wind for everybody,” Directeur Sportif John Lelangue explained.  “There were strong crosswinds the whole day and our guys did a great job continuing to fight.”  The violent winds smashed the peloton to pieces nearly from the beginning, quickly forming three main groups.  “The group immediately split into three separate groups,” Lelangue confirmed.  “Initially we had everyone in the two front groups, but Martin Kohler had a mechanical and Thomas Frei sacrificed his own wheel so that Martin could continue.”  Frei’s willingness to give up his position meant that he was left chasing in the windy no-mans-land.  “Thomas chased for a long time, but he was never able to catch up to the peloton,” Lelangue explained.  Equally unlucky was Frei’s teammate Jackson Stewart who had been riding very strongly in the front peloton only to be caught up in a bad crash.  “We had to change bikes for Jackson, and then he had to chase for a very long time to get back onto the tail end of the peloton,” Lelangue said.  “He did manage to catch back up, but he was so spent and suffering a little from the impact of the crash, that he did eventually have to abandon the race.” 

Tough work for a tough team

With twenty kilometers remaining in the race, BMC still had four riders in the front peloton which consisted of around fifty riders total.  “The winds were so drastic, that guys were getting tailed off the back one by one,” Lelangue said.  “With around fifteen kilometers to go, we still had Danilo and Brent in the front group of forty.”  Constant attacking saw a small group of seven riders splinter off the front.  This group contained Farrar, Boonen and Roger Hammond (Cervelo), and ended up sprinting for the stage win.  “The rest of the pack rolled in about six seconds back,” Lelangue said.  “Taking into account the bonification points awarded, this puts Danilo and Brent about 30 seconds behind the race lead.”  Sunday’s final stage should offer enough topographical challenges to break up the log-jam in the general classification.  “Tomorrow will be very windy again, and on the finishing circuit there will be a pretty difficult climb which the group will have to do five times,” Lelangue said.  “That will make the stage a little more selective which should work to our advantage.”