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Markus Zberg using his good form in Romandie (foto by AbbiOrca.com)
Markus Zberg using his good form in Romandie (foto by AbbiOrca.com)

Markus Zberg grabs 9th place in Romandie stage 1

29. aprile 2009

Fribourg

Though the teeth had largely been removed due to snow on the passes, the second day at the Tour de Romandie proved to be a fast and furious shortened stage which resulted in a change of leadership. 

A three man breakaway slipped off the front of the pack just over 20 kilometers into the race, and managed to keep their advantage until the finish line.  Ricardo Serrano of Fuji-Servetto took the stage while Astana's Gregory Rast became the new race leader.  Mis-timing the catch by about 30 seconds, the decimated peloton sprinted for the line with Markus Zberg snagging 9th place in the chaotic gallop.

Snow shortens stage, changes game plan

"The day went pretty well for us with Markus taking a top 10 position, and nearly all our guys finished in the front group," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue reported.  "The reduced stage was very fast from the start so everyone had to stay alert."  With snow shutting down the roads over the main category 1, the stage became a shorter, faster though no less demanding effort.  "It was a really tricky stage with this type of fast, short race," Lelangue explained.  "Everyone did a great job watching out for our GC men, but of course it was a totally difference stage than what we had planned for."  The team's top finisher on the day was content with how the race unfolded.  "The stage was not so long but very fast from the gun which helped us stay warm on such a cool day!" Markus Zberg said.  "We were lucky there was no rain."

Three man break sticks to the end

Though BMC has made a name for itself getting into long breakaways, Lelangue said that joining the three man break which won the day was not part of the game plan.  "We are only considering joining the bigger breaks and not looking at these smaller groups," Lelangue explained.  "Since we are still focusing on ending with a high overall place on the GC we did not want to go with this smaller group."  The fact the breakaway succeeded at all seems to have been a combination of too few pure sprinters left at the front of the race to force the chase and a general mis-timing by the teams who did mount a chase.  "I had hoped that we would bring the three riders back," Zberg said.  "But in the end, we had given them too much time and didn't leave enough road to reel them back in." 

Still had some tough climbs to deal with

Though the main climb of the day had to be left out of the stage, there was still some stiff climbing facing the riders.  Most notably, the narrow cobbled climb that the group tackled in the circuit on the outskirts of Fribourg proved to have a strong impact on the outcome.  "On the final lap with the cobbled climb, the main pack exploded," Lelangue said.  "But I was very happy that 6 of our guys were well enough positioned and strong enough to keep with the front group."  Having such a difficult climb so close to the finish line played into the hands of BMC's sprinters.  "That final climb turned out not to be too tough," Zberg said.  "I had positioned myself well and was able to keep a good tempo going."  With the pack smashed into several smaller groups by the finish, only those sprinters who also have a certain ability to climb had any hope of finding a top place.  "I had a pretty good jump today," Zberg said.  "Ninth place is alright, but I know I can do better."  With stage 2 offering another unpredictable parcours suited to fast finishers who can hold their own on the climbs, perhaps Zberg will have a chance to improve on his place in Fribourg.