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BMC's Utah power - Jeff Louder (Foto by Tim De Waele)
BMC's Utah power - Jeff Louder (Foto by Tim De Waele)

As the Tour of Utah readies itself to live up to its “Hardest Race in America” billing, BMC sets very high ambitions for success in this late summer goal

12. August 2008

Santa Rosa / Salt Lake City

For over a week now the BMC Racing Team has been living and training at altitude in the Utah Mountains, preparing themselves for the challenging stages they will face in the 2008 Tour of Utah later this week. 

Utah native and resident, Jeff Louder, has been contributing his local knowledge to the camp by helping to organize the days’ rides and giving an insider’s view of race’s climbs to some of the team’s Utah neophytes.  “The camp has been going really well,” Louder confirmed at the weekend.  “We’ve been acclimatizing to the altitude, everyone is in good spirits, and we’ve certainly confirmed that the race will be very, very hard!” 

BMC doing their homework, hoping for big results

“The Tour of Utah is one that we can realistically win,” Gavin Chilcott explained.  “We not only have a team of good climbers, but a group of guys who perform very well at high altitude – and those two things don’t always go hand in hand.”  With riders who live at altitude like Jeff Louder, Darren Lill and Jonathan Garcia as well as talented climbers like Steve Bovay and Scott Nydam on the roster, BMC finds it has almost an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their pool protagonists.  Jeff Louder has relished the opportunity to show his team mates around some of his favourite climbs while acting as de facto Director for the camp.  “They have been kind of teasing that I’ve been Director for the camp, but obviously there’s a lot more to being a Team Director than picking a few routes!” Louder joked. 

“Seriously though, I have been so excited for this camp and the race that I have been planning for months what I want to show the guys; it is very motivating to have a race of this calibre in your own backyard.”  The team has been living at altitude and reconnoitring several of the key stages and difficult climbs.  “This is really more about acclimating than hard-core training,” Louder explained.  “The people at the place where we have been staying have taken great care of us, so now all we have to do is worry about riding our bikes.”  Familiarizing themselves with the course will also hopefully play a big role in the team’s overall success.  “I think the guys will see the benefit of having really done our homework,” Chilcott confided.  “I’m pretty optimistic about Utah; it is a stage race where we should be able to perform very well.”

Utah: Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s

Though Utah may not have the media clout of a Tour of California or Georgia, it does have the reputation of offering the toughest racing in the States.  “The courses are charismatic enough to make a real difference,” Chilcott said.  “There are some really big, hard stages during the event and on a sporting level the race will be extremely interesting and difficult.”  Two of BMC’s brightest hopes found their first national-level success at the 2006 Tour of Utah.  “Both Garcia and Nydam love racing in the Rockies,” Chilcott revealed.  “The 2006 race was really a breakout race for both of them; it was the first time they demonstrated themselves on a national stage and showed that even as 8 guys in a van they could put in really solid performances.”  “The race in 2006 was pretty special for me as I was trying very hard to get a pro contract,” Garcia said.  “This year will be different since I will race hard and focus on what’s best for the team, but the riding in Utah really suits me so I’m excited.” 

With so many personal connections to the Rockies, the interest in this race runs perhaps just a little deeper than usual for the team.  “We are really motivated as a squad to work for each other and everyone on the team is riding very well,” Louder said.  “Darren also lives in Utah and is such a good climber; he has to be considered a top favourite for the win.”  Further assessing the team, Louder continued, “Jonathan has been extremely impressive particularly because he has been injured a lot lately, but is still riding so strongly.  Bovay and Nydam have come from Wallonie with amazing form, and are excellent climbers, while Brent Bookwalter and Ian McKissick were both training at altitude even before our camp so they are also tip-top.”  With such depth in racers, the team has every ambition to be a main mover and shaker for the race.  “With the team we have here, we’d ultimately like to win it,” Garcia said.  “The winner should be pretty clear after Saturday’s Queen Stage.  With Jeff and Darren absolutely flying, we’re ready.”