The BMC Racing team finished on the podium of the UCI Road World Championships team time trial championships for a fifth consecutive time but were unable to sign off with a final victory before the team becomes CCC in 2019 and many of its big-name riders move elsewhere.
The BMC Racing riders won the world title in 2014 and 2015 and so were logically disappointed to finish third, 19 seconds slower than winners Quick-Step Floors and silver medalists Team Sunweb, who were a second faster.
Patrick Bevin, Damiano Caruso, Rohan Dennis, Stefan Küng, Greg Van Avermaet, and Tejay van Garderen were second fastest behind Mitchelton-Scott after 22.8km but slipped to third fastest after the climb to Axams after 45km. They lost Küng at this point after the Swiss rouleur made a huge contribution during the 40km flat roads and were unable to match Quick-Step Floors’ finishing speed.
“We did everything to plan, but we just got beat by a better team on the day,” Dennis said sportingly.
"Quick-Step Floors are always good. They don't have Tony Martin anymore, but one rider doesn't win a team time trial, it’s a team event. Those guys have always been pretty solid. They are always on our radar and we did think that they were top four but in the end, we were thinking that Team Sky and Team Sunweb were the favourites to beat us."
Dennis and van Garderen regretted not pushing the pace a little higher on the climb, but the 62.4km distance forced teams to adopt a slightly cautious race strategy to avoid falling apart in the final kilometres. Each team fielded six riders, and the time was taken on the fourth rider to finish. Most teams sacrificed a rider on the climb, but finishing with just four was a risk in case of punctures and crashes.
“I thought we maybe went a little conservatively on climb,” van Garderen suggested to Cyclingnews.
“We did it quicker in training, and that kind of scared everybody because we thought if we go this quick then we’d be in trouble, so we stayed on a conservative approach. But in a one-day event like this, any time you give away is time you don’t get back.”
“Our goal was to finish with five guys at the top of the climb and to have someone to shell out and sacrifice on the flat road if we really needed to. Maybe we could have gone potentially quicker on the climb and maybe go closer to Quick-Step Floors, but you never know,” he said.
"The distance itself wasn't really an issue and the time ended up being quicker than we thought it would. It was a 50 to 54 kilometres per hour average. It was a good course and we just got beaten by a better team."
Dennis and van Garderen will ride the individual time trial for Australia and the USA, respectively, on Wednesday, but the team time trial was van Garderen’s final race in BMC Racing’s distinctive red-and-black colours after seven years with the US-registered WorldTour team. The American stage racer will join EF Education First-Drapac in 2019.
“It would have been nice to get that fairytale ending, but you know, sports sometimes don’t work out like that,” van Garderen said.
“I have fond memories of this team. Relationships over a span of years ebb and flow but they supported me really well. I’m excited to join a new team but this team has been a home for me for seven years and I’m very grateful. It’s been a good run. Third place in a world championships, that’s a medal, that’s nothing to sneeze at.”