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Gavin Chilcott: “It is important to recognize the physical red flags that are telling a rider something is wrong before it is too late.” (Photos by Mark Adkinson)
Gavin Chilcott: “It is important to recognize the physical red flags that are telling a rider something is wrong before it is too late.” (Photos by Mark Adkinson)

How many different ways can you say “miserable”?

22. February 2008

San Luis Obispo

What should have been a fairly straightforward, if long transition stage from Seaside to San Luis Obispo turned into a seven hour-plus slog in the cold, wind and rain. 

The BMC Racing Team again managed to accomplish its primary goals for the stage, but that doesn’t mean everything went according to plan.  Though Jackson Stewart and Danilo Wyss managed to get into the day’s main breakaway, which allowed Jackson to eat up all King of the Mountain points on the day, he unexpectedly ended his Tour of California with hypothermia.

The weather has its say

After successive days of exceeding expectations, BMC hoped to solidify their spoils and keep their GC contender in a comfortable position.  In spite of the weather, early on things were going according to plan.  Speaking after the race, Gavin Chilcott explained, “We again drew up a game plan that we thought would be well achievable, but we simply didn’t foresee the problems we were going to have with Jackson near the end.”  Even the best laid plans don’t always go in the intended direction.  “Our first intention on the day was to protect the KOM jersey, and when Jackson ended up in the main break, we told him to run with it,” Gavin said.  “But with a day of constant wind and rain, he just couldn’t continue because he couldn’t keep his temperature up.”  Danilo Wyss, the young Swiss sprinter on the team also worked his way into the break.  “Danilo was riding smart and near the front, so he was in the right position to take advantage of the breakaway when it went,” Gavin said.  “He capitalized on spontaneous advantages, and he would have been perfectly placed for a sprint finish if the group had stayed away till the end.”

The peloton becoming a group of the rolling wounded

Though BMC has thus far escaped catching the highly contagious stomach bug which has decimated several other teams in the race, no one could find shelter from the elements today.  “A lot of people were struggling with the weather today,” Gavin said.  “And with the stage being so long, fatigue becomes a factor for everyone.”  Though American-based riders seldom race the distance today’s stage offered, “an experienced Euro Classics rider might have an advantage in knowing how to manage their bodies in these climatic conditions,” Gavin said.  “It is important to recognize the physical red flags that are telling a rider something is wrong before it is too late.” 

Recovery will be key

With tomorrow’s time trial almost certainly acting as the decisive stage of this year’s tour, the weather horrors the riders faced today could play an unexpected part in the shaking out of the final classification.  “We will certainly see the effects of today in tomorrow’s race,” Gavin predicted.  “We may see cases where riders who normally excel in time trials will actually struggle, which will open the door for a not-expert who recovers well to place much higher than expected.”  BMC can be happy that they did retain the KOM jersey.  “Scott Nydam struggled with the cold too, but he got through it and will still be King of the Mountain tomorrow,” Gavin reported.  “Though I suspect he would rather that Jackson was the KOM since Jackson really did earn it today.”