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Chad Beyer still on good form (Foto by Tim De Waele)
Chad Beyer still on good form (Foto by Tim De Waele)

BMC dominates Tour of the Battenkill

19. aprile 2009

Cambridge

Upstate New York's answer to the cobbled classics of northern Europe, the Tour of the Battenkill challenges the participants with endless sections of dirt or gravel roads and constant undulations. 

Fresh off a cobbled campaign in Belgium, the BMC Racing Team arrived in Cambridge, New York with high expectations for success.  Fulfilling all hopes, BMC's Chad Beyer walked away with the Pro/Amateur race on Saturday while Scott Nydam soloed his way to victory in the Pro Invitational on Sunday.

Memorable weekend

"We had about as good of a weekend as we could have hoped," BMC Directeur Mike Sayers reported.  "This race really played to our strengths and a lot of the guys who were a little slow getting into form are now finding their legs."  Saturday's race combined the professionals and the elite amateurs, taking one 100km loop around the environs of Cambridge with an added section making the route a 129km thrash-fest over the gravelled, hilly roads of upstate New York.  A 12 man breakaway midway through the race was stacked with three BMC riders.  "It was an awesome race for us," Saturday's victor Chad Beyer said.  "An early break went off with Jackson Stewart, Jonathan Garcia and me."  Taking turns in attacking the group, first Stewart got a gap, and then Garcia gained nearly a minute and a half on the group.  "I thought Jonathan may have had a gap big enough to take the win," Beyer explained.  However, some powerful riding by Tom Zirbel put paid to Garcia's chances. "Everyone on the team road really well, but since we had three guys in the break and then Jonathan Garcia off the front soloing for 40km, the pressure was really off the guys," Sayers explained.  "They just had to follow wheels and keep alert about how the race was unfolding."  Once Garcia's escape was reeled in, Chad Beyer took the reins, following an attack by Tom Zirbel.  "Zirbel took some seriously strong pulls on the dirt roads to bring Jonathan back," Beyer explained.  "After that, I attacked, then Zirbel countered and in the end it was just the two of us and I out-sprinted him for the win."  Jonathan Garcia finished the day in 5th while Jackson Stewart took 7th and Scott Nydam was 14th.

More playing in the dirt

Since Sunday's race was intended only for the invited professional teams, the length was nearly doubled and would see the riders taking two loops around the 100km course from the day before.  "It rained a little bit Saturday, so the dirt sections were a little more packed down," Sayers said.  "But it was still pretty dry, dusty and tough; the cars did a lot to turn over the dirt so it was by no means an easy task."  Knowing that the difficulty of the course would play to their advantage, BMC went out with an attacking game plan.  "Though I didn't necessarily mean to be solo for so long, the main plan of the day certainly was to get into the breaks," Scott Nydam said.  "Though we only had five guys in the race, we had a lot of cards to play and whenever one of us gets in the break, it gives the other guys a free ride to follow wheels."  Early in the first lap, Scott Nydam broke away from the group with Ouch's Bobby Lea, quickly gaining a 3 minute gap.  "The dirt roads were tough and there was mayhem back in the main peloton," Sayers said.  "At one point there must have been 30 guys at the side of the road with flats, but our guys came out basically unscathed which is a testament to the Continental tires we were using." 

Pack your podium hat

"Today was a crazy race," Sayers said.  "Scott and Bobby broke away early on the first lap and then Scott was on his own early in the second lap."  A strong chase eventually formed and managed to get to within one minute of Nydam.  "I knew there was a chase group behind us, so I put in an effort to drop Bobby and be off alone," Nydam explained.  "The main point of my being in a break was to take off the pressure from my teammates, but I did pack my podium cap this morning, so I was hoping to go well today."  Believing in his chances to take the overall victory, Nydam road a steady race and managed to keep the chasers at bay.  "I learned a few lessons at a similar race in California last weekend," Nydam explained.  "I like this course too and find that I can recover well after the punchy climbs so I knew that even if I didn't win, I would certainly make it hard on the other teams trying to catch me." 

Confidence breeds confidence

After several recent team successes in Europe and America, there is a pervasive good mood which also engenders enormous confidence in the BMC riders. "A happy group of guys is a good thing and I can't say enough about having a team with a positive attitude," Sayers said.  "The reason we're racing so well now is that they have been doing a lot of hard-knocks races in Europe; the advantage of running a double program are that you are doing intense races weekend after weekend and we are just beginning to reap the benefits."  "We feel like we are finally getting ahead of the game," Nydam concurred.  "We really believe that we can achieve great things and there is no doubt that the body responds positively to that sort of attitude."