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Jeff Louder finishes an excellent 3rd in Cascade’s first stage. Foto: Tim De Waele
Jeff Louder finishes an excellent 3rd in Cascade’s first stage. Foto: Tim De Waele

Jeff Louder finishes an excellent 3rd in Cascade’s first stage while whole BMC team excels

10. luglio 2008

Having come away from the recent Tour of Switzerland with very strong form, the BMC team members are looking forward to making an impact in this year’s Cascade Cycling Classic.

Typically a stage race tailor-made for climbers, Cascade will offer the BMC squad, top heavy with climbers, multiple opportunities to shine this week.  Wednesday’s Stage 1 Robberson Ford Prineville Road Race cut across 83 miles of Eastern Oregon, presenting the racers with two challenging climbs to help shake out the protagonists early in the stage race.   With six riders well placed in the top 25 after stage 1, BMC still has any number of cards to play this week.

Fast, aggressive start finally gives way to a dangerous break

“The team rode really well today,” Gavin Chilcott declared.  “Aside from some early, non-threatening breaks, we were well represented in every move all day.”  The stage was raced at an aggressive pace which found the riders completing 83 miles in less than 3 hours.  “It was a really fast stage,” Scott Nydam reported.  “At 83 miles this is a shorter stage than in past years, and it just made everyone go even faster.  Besides that it took forever for a break to be allowed to get away.”  About 35 miles into the stage and just before the first climb, a large group did slip away with two BMC riders, Jonathan Garcia and Brent Bookwalter, joining Bissel and Team Type-1 riders as the backbone of the break.  “Brent rode really well all day as he was evident in several breaks and worked hard as a main motor of the break before the big climb,” Chilcott explained.  “The break with Jonathan and Brent reshuffled on the climb, and in that reshuffling, Jeff Louder was able to bridge across and join them.”  Louder was in a small chase group which formed on the first climb and included Levi Leipheimer, Rory Sutherland and BMC team mate Darren Lill.  “Slipstream had missed the break all together so they formed a pretty organized chase group leading into the climb,” Louder recounted.  “By the time we hit the climb, the break had maybe 20 seconds on us.  Botero attacked first, coming from behind me and went across,” Louder continued, “everyone was just looking at each other, so I decided to drop it into the big chain ring and make my move.”  Riding with good legs and making smart decisions, Jeff’s aggression impressed everyone.  “Louder’s move was spectacular,” Nydam gushed.  

Jockeying for the final

With three riders in the break of 12, BMC had strength in numbers.  Jonathan Garcia, coming off a painful injury to his knee in the Tour of Switzerland, sacrificed his own chances and devoted himself to driving the break.  “I had good legs today, but it was more importantly a team effort with Jonathan and Brent doing a lot of work,” Louder said.  Chilcott also recognized the unselfish effort Garcia made.  “With Slipstream and HealthNet both missing the break, they were chasing hard in the last 20 miles of the stage,” he recounted.  “Jonathan made big sacrifices to give the break as much time advantage as possible at the base of the climb, which played to our advantage since Jeff and Brent were then able to finish so well.”  In a stage-winning move, Santiago Botero attacked at the base of the final climb which spirals steeply for a little more than a mile up a volcanic cinder cone.  “No one reacted when Botero went from the bottom, including me,” Louder explained.  “I know myself and how I climb; I knew that I had to go at my own pace, which is basically what everyone did.  That’s how Bladwin (Toyota-United) got around me at the finish; he went at his own pace which was a little faster than mine!” Leipheimer came across from the main field to finish top five, with Brent Bookwalter and Darren Lill finishing strongly to fill out the top 10.  “Riders like Botero and Levi are big fish in a little pond in a race like this,” Louder said.  “We will just have to be creative and find ways to distance ourselves from the obvious GC candidates.  But we have a typical BMC team here where any one of us could come away with a big win; the sky’s the limit!”  And there will be no limit to the team’s ambitions for this week.  “Cascade is a good race for us, at our end of the country, as we are based in California, with significant courses,” Chilcott said.  “This is definitely a race well suited to us and we have brought a team to challenge for all prizes.”