We were good, but not good enough, says Peiper
BMC left Paris-Roubaix empty handed despite being one of the most active teams during the race. With three potential contenders for the podium, the American outfit were expected to be in the mix at the finish. They went into the final 50km with four men in the front two groups, but a series of unfortunate events meant they were left with nobody when the real attacks began.
Their work was all for Greg Van Avermaet, but it turned to nought when he took a tumble on a corner. BMC's performance director Allan Peiper was left lamenting their misfortune, but could take heart from what went before. "I think the boys rode well. They were in the action all day. They were controlling breaks, trying to get away and I think everyone did really well. It was unfortunate that Greg crashed with 22km to go in a dirt corner," he told Cyclingnews. "Mickey Schär helped to get him back, but the group was splitting up and 11 riders got away. I think that Greg finish 18th out of the second group that came in. He was unfortunate. Apart from Greg, I think we did what we could but we weren't good enough on the day."
Phinney was meant to provide an able back up plan but suffered a puncture on the cobbles and was forced to stop and take a wheel change. The former two-time under 23 champion had looked strong up until that point and was understandably disappointed when he crossed the line. "It's too bad, but I think that personally that I've made a step forward from the years before.
"When you flat on the cobbles you can't really push the same power. I tried to stay with the group, but then you have to stop at the end of the sector and you lose a good 30 seconds. From there, I was in another little group and powered to the line," explained Phinney. "Every year is a learning experience and for sure it was a step forward, but for the team I think that we deserved more than the results showed."
Thor Hushovd was the team's big aggressor, taking it upon himself to chase many of the big breaks down. Hushovd has been distinctly lacking for some time now. Illness was to blame for much of it, but it has led some to question his motivation. There were no such issues here and definitely plenty of motivation as he bridged to the leading group, which contained Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Geraint Thomas (Sky). "I like to see Thor riding strong. He's struggled for a couple of years but today he was up there and he was more active than he's ever been in the past," said his teammate Phinney.
Hushovd and his fellow escapees made it to the Camphin-en-Pévèle sector of pavé before they were tracked down by the group that would fill the podium places. The Norwegian was eventually dropped by them before the finish, but his team acknowledged his efforts. "Thor rode a great race and it's really super for him that he can be out there. He did a great job of getting across to that break with Boonen. I wouldn't say that we were in trouble there, but we were having to control the race because Cancellara had lost teammates. We were keeping that break at 15 seconds but then Thor rode across which saved us a hell of a lot of work."
BMC has finished the first half of their classics season, which has now been defined as two very separate entities. Where some of their riders had previously ridden both the cobbles and the Ardennes, BMC has made them into two very different teams. Greg van Avermaet has been the leader on the cobbles, while Philippe Gilbert will go to the Ardennes at the end of next week. Peiper believes that it was the right choice and the decision has garnered many improvements.
"I think we've made enormous steps in racing like a team. The guys have got confidence out of the way that they rode at Gent-Wevelgem, Ronde van Vlaanderen and today, even though we didn't get the result that we'd hoped for," he told Cyclingnews. "I think, moving forward, for the classics team in general, the way we've raced is the way we want to race in the future and it will come at some point."
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