Prior to participating in the first race of its first Pro Continental season, the Tour of Qatar, the BMC Racing Team gathered for a ten-day training camp in California. The team roster of 16 riders from the United States, South Africa and Switzerland joined together in Palo Alto near San Francisco.
Team leaders Gavin Chilcott (General Manager), Charlie Livermore (former US National Mountain Bike Coach, now Training Consultant) and John Lelangue (former General Team Manager of the Phonak Cycling Team, now Directeur Sportif) picked nine new members to the squad, while seven remained from the 2007 team. With the average age being 25 years, the mixture of seasoned pro and eager youngster should be winning results while building for the future at the same time. The most prominent figure of the new riders is the experienced US-American Tony Cruz, formerly with Discovery Channel (see Cyclingnews' teams database for the full roster of the BMC Racing team).
Nevertheless, there is no designated leader of the pack. "Even if we have professional team-mates like Mike Sayers, Alex Moos or Tony Cruz, who could become leaders, we have chosen not to have a team leader. We rely on the group," said General Manager Gavin Chilcott, himself a former pro.
The BMC Racing Team also announced its anti-doping programme in collaboration with the independent Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE), an international California-based agency, which already counts the teams Slipstream and High Road amongst its clients, will carry out blood and urine tests throughout the entire year. Any deviation in a rider's values will result in the severest consequences. "We have a zero tolerance for doping. We believe in clean sport and will do everything on our side to set a credible example," added Chilcott.
As the year has thus far been scheduled, the BMC Racing Team will compete in about 30 single-day and multi-day races on three continents in its first Pro Continental season. Beside the American tours in California, Georgia, Utah and Missouri, there will be other highlights such as the Tour of Qatar, the Critérium International and the Tour de Wallonie. The American-Swiss Team also would like to participate in the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, and so will be working toward winning a wild card from the race organisers and the UCI during the early races of the '08 season. If the team is admitted to the Swiss tours, the four Swiss riders Moos, Bovay, Wyss and Kohler will certainly like to show off the team colours on their home country's roads.
Broken collarbone for Bovay
For Swiss rider Steve Bovay, the excitement of beginning his first year as a professional racer has nevertheless been tempered by some ill-luck he had on the third stage at the Tour of Qatar. About eight kilometres from the finish, a group of riders crashed, bringing down the BMC neo-pro who ended up in hospital with a broken collarbone.
"We were only eight kilometres from the finish so things were going pretty fast," explained Bovay. "I had no intention of contesting the sprint as I am not a sprinter. I was sitting a bit far back in the field and trying to stay out of trouble, but six riders crashed right in front of me. I couldn't do anything. My shoulder was quite painful, but I was so close to the finish that I decided to ride to the finish line in case I could start the next day."
The 24 year-old will fly home to Switzerland today (Thursday) and undergo surgery to repair the broken bone. "We hope that within five to seven days I can begin training again, but I won't be able to race for one to one and a half months. I wasn't scheduled to race in February, but I want to race Belgian events in March. By then I should be healed enough, but we'll have to see what my fitness level will be and whether I can still keep to the schedule."