Team BMC Ready to Fight for GC in 2009 Amgen Tour of California
With the first race of the season already handily in their back pockets, the BMC Racing Team is putting the finishing touches on its preparation for the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. This year's race roster has been touted as perhaps the greatest list of professionals ever to compete on American soil.
Even if that is a debatable point, there is no question that the 2009 edition will boast the best field ever for the California stage race. "While we can't predict who will win the race, I can guarantee this will be the hardest fought race ever in California," Team BMC General Manager Gavin Chilcott told Roadcycling.com.
Anxious to harvest the good form from a hard winter's training
Having been one of BMC's heroes in the 2008 Tour of California, Scott Nydam is looking forward to finding out how much he has improved from a year ago. "This time of year is always exciting because I feel like I'm sitting on a harvest and waiting to see what I can reap," Nydam explained. "The team's expectations of me are getting larger which is good because they parallel my own ambitions and goals."
BMC has made no secret of the fact that this year, they have raised the bar of their own expectations and anything less than a top 10 placing will be below par. "As with all the races we will be doing this year, whatever happens, we want to be in the top 10," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue reiterated. "We will hold back from being quite as aggressive at the beginning of the stages and rather save the guys for the decisive portions later in the stages."
Bringing the best possible team for the difficulties of the race
"We are taking our best team yet to California since we have several riders for the climbing, several all-rounders and Markus Zberg we're counting on competing for [victory in] the fast finishes."
Recently at the team camp, Team BMC had the opportunity to review two of the early stages, which Lelangue hopes will bring good results in the race. "We have already trained over the first two stages as a team, and we know that we can make a difference in those stages," Lelangue commented. "We are going into the race with the confidence knowing that we have eight complete riders on the roster with the experience to know how to make the most of the situations unfolding during the race." With veteran racers like Markus Zberg, Alex Moos and Jeff Louder on the squad, the management can be confident in the on-the-road wisdom that the team will have access to. Young talents like Mathias Frank, Thomas Frei and strong climbers and time triallers like Scott Nydam, Jonathan Garcia and Ian McKissick, will give BMC multiple options to work with within the context of the renowned international field.
Uncertain of which rider will perform best in California, BMC is holding off on naming a leader for the race, preferring rather to wait and see what happens within the race itself. "Our leaders are not yet at the level of the leaders of the top teams, so our tactics will revolve around which of our guys will be able to make the right selection each stage," Chilcott explained. "We should still have three potential leaders going into the Solvang time trial, and after that stage every team will know who they are riding for."
Like a bunch of snorting horses at the starting gates
In spite of its early place on the racing season calendar, the Tour of California has become a hotly contested international event. "This race will be game on from the starting blocks out there and no one is bringing a team here just to run a training camp," Chilcott believes. "The teams from Europe have brought their best rosters and the racing will be extremely aggressive; no one can afford to come into the race with a complacent mindset."
Though working for a top 10 finish is perhaps less showy than going for some of the small classification prizes, it is necessary for Team BMC to take its place in the fight for the main event prizes. "I think that this year we really need to enter the big fight," Nydam said. "The decisive moves are made on the Cat 1 climbs, and not the Cat 2 or 3 climbs, and we need to ride with our heads as well as our legs so that we can stay within the leading mix for the full 9 days." The team has proved that it works well together with team leader tactics only unfolding on the road. That ability combined with the difficulty level the Tour of California offers should work well with BMC strengths. "The leitmotif of the team meetings is always to compete as a well balanced team with realistic objectives," Lelangue told Roadcycling.com. "California is our type of race and so we will be certain to be attentive to the leaders, concentrating on being aggressive in the last part of stages where [they] will be decided."