BMC Racing’s victory Tuesday during the Critérium du Dauphiné’s stage 3 team time trial meant more than just adding another stage win and bringing the yellow jersey into the fold on the back of Rohan Dennis. The reigning team time trial world champions wanted to make a statement.
"When you are world champion in this event, you have to take it seriously every time," said Tejay van Garderen, the team’s publicly declared leader for the race. "You definitely get nostalgic. But you are also out there to prove a point. We are world champions and we went out to show them why."
BMC stormed over the 24.5km course in 29:54, four seconds faster than runner-up Astana and five second better than third-placed Movistar. Team director Yvon Ledanois said winning the stage was not only important for this race, but also for the upcoming Tour de France.
"It is very important for the morale," he said. "I think the guys have confidence now for the Tour. I think it is a good, good moment to win this team time trial."
Four riders from last fall’s world championship squad were part of BMC’s winning effort on Tuesday: Dennis, van Garderen, Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato. Joining them were Joey Rosskopf, Samuel Sánchez, Michael Schär and Dylan Teuns.
"Since we knew Rohan was our strongest guy, we had him set the pace and then it was up to the rest of us to decide how long of pulls we could do at that pace," van Garderen said. "We aimed for the winning pace and told the guys if you can hold it, you deserve to be there. If you can't hold it, then you are going to get dropped. We finished with the minimum amount of guys, but we had the best time."
Having crossed the line first for BMC, Dennis took over the yellow jersey. He’s followed in the general classification by van Garderen, who shares the same time. Dennis said the order at the finish was not part of a pre-determined plan.
"We didn't actually talk about who would go over the line first," the former UCI Hour Record holder said. "It was just whoever got there first. Tejay took over with 500 meters to go and I saw Dylan was just off the wheel, so I backed off and paced him back on. I just came at Tejay and Daniel and Joey and went past them, wanting to help them get to the line as quickly as possible."
Wednesday's 228km stage is the longest of the eight-day WorldTour race and appears on paper to be an opportunity for the sprinters. The Critérium du Dauphiné, which concludes on Sunday, enters the Alps Thursday for four consecutive days in the mountains.