Bookwalter goes close in Tour of the Alps final sprint

American given protected status by BMC but finishes second to Thibaut Pinot

Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) recovered from his final sprint effort at the Tour of the Alps in the shadow of the Duomo in the central square of Trento, initially angry and disappointed that he had come up short in the hectic finale.

Bookwalter made sure he was on Thibaut Pinot’s wheel in the twisting final kilometre in the city centre, but the cobbled road surface and left and right turns made it difficult for him to come past the Frenchman, who was determined to win his first ever sprint as a professional after missing out on Thursday’s fourth stage.

Bookwalter finished second at the line behind an overjoyed Pinot (FDJ), with Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) carefully following Pinot to ensure he took overall victory.

"We knew that we had to be at the front for that last corner. I tried but I messed it up with visual judgment at the car deviation. I thought we kept going straight for another block, so Pinot got a good jump and then there was no time to come around him," Bookwalter explained, his anger fading to regret as the adrenaline of the sprint eased.

The final stage of the five-day Tour of the Alps was arguably the queen stage with the long climb of Monte Bondone, a twisting descent and then a final steep climb overlooking Trento. BMC team leader Rohan Dennis decided to switch roles and ride for Bookwalter, helping the American on the 19.4km climb to the summit of Monte Bondone.

Joey Rosskopf helped set up Bookwalter's result when he infiltrated the early nine-man breakaway that built a lead of more than five minutes. Rosskopf and the others survived to the Monte Bondone climb with about 50km remaining, where the chase from a vastly reduced peloton finally reeled them in. Bookwalter and Dennis took over from there.

"I have to really thank Rohan and the rest of the team today. Rohan said he appreciated what the team has done for him in this race and wanted to line it up for someone else," Bookwalter said gratefully.

"Over the Bondone I was really dying. I wouldn’t have made the front group without the help of him and Joey Rosskopf. I have to thank them for this opportunity.

"When Joey got caught, he did a great job pacing me back, and Rohan backed off to help pull me over the top and rode for me the rest of the way," Bookwalter said. "It was really an honor and privilege to have the team throw their support behind me, and I am grateful for the opportunity. It was just a shame that I couldn't get the big prize at the end, but I am proud of our effort. For me to be up there with that caliber of riders at the finish is a good sign and a testament to the work I have been doing."

Despite showing excellent form on the five hilly or mountain stages of the Tour of the Alps, Bookwalter will not be part of BMC’s team for the Giro d’Italia in support of Tejay van Garderen and Dennis. He will have a chance to use his form in pursuit of personal success in Britain and then at home in the US.

"No Giro for me. I’m doing the Tour de Yorkshire and then the Tour of California," he explained. "I’m looking forward to being at California and happy to go home to the USA for a spell."

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