Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) put in a consistent performance at the Amgen Tour of California after a broken collarbone set him back six weeks prior to the marquee stateside event. The American is now turning his attention to two big goals; winning a stars and stripes jersey at the USA Cycling Professional National Championships next weekend in South Carolina, and, more importantly, his preparations for the Tour de France in July.
“I would like to win that jersey,” Bookwalter told Cyclingnews. “It’s been a dream of mine since the beginning of my career to be Captain America for one year. It’s a special race and largely depends on team dynamics. But I should have good form coming off of the Tour of California.”
Bookwalter, alongside his teammate Steve Morabito, showed good form during the event’s two mountaintop finishes on Sierra Road and Mt Baldy this week. He started the queen stage seven in 14th position in the overall classification and slipped one position into 15th place following the decisive ascent to the top of Mt Baldy. Morabito climbed with the front group for as long as possible and moved into 9th place overall heading into the final stage.
“I am semi-satisfied with how the Amgen Tour of California went, but you always want to strive for more,” Bookwalter said. “It was a little disappointing for us not to have someone consistently racing in the top ten or top five category of riders here. Originally this race was a big focus of mine and then breaking my collarbone side tracked that focus a little bit. I didn’t know what to expect coming into this race.”
Bookwalter broke his collarbone during the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya in March. He was instructed by doctors to take six weeks off the bike to allow the bone proper time to heal and his first set of training rides was a week before the start of the Amgen Tour of California.
“At the Volta a Catalunya, I broke my collarbone on the last stage after a high speed aggressive start in the rain in Barcelona, so they were crazy and dicey streets,” Bookwalter said. “I was 20 or 30 wheels back and it was just one of those things. It was about a six-week recovery and I couldn’t start training until right before this race, where I could actually do a training ride and feel satisfied with it.”
BMC Racing assigned Bookwalter two Grand Tours last year, as he competed in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. He surprised the cycling world during the Giro d’Italia prologue where he placed second to Olympic pursuit gold medallist Bradley Wiggins.
Bookwalter decided against the Giro d’Italia this year and instead wanted to compete in the Amgen Tour of California with the goal of preparing well for the following weekend’s USA Cycling Pro Championships. BMC Racing will send Bookwalter along with George Hincpaie, defending time trial champion Taylor Phinney and Jeff Louder.
“I really wanted to race the Amgen Tour of California for a couple of reasons,” Brookwalter said. “First, it is the biggest race in the US so being an American and not being here, you feel a little left out. Second, it works really well with Nationals, which is the week after. Since Nationals is in my part of the country, it is important for me. Also, I’m looking forward to the Tour de France and last year doing both the Giro and the Tour was a little much. I’ve really been focused on a striving to make the Tour team this year.”
According to BMC Racing Team directeur sportif, Mike Sayers, Bookwalter is confirmed to participate in the Tour de France in July. He is one of a 12-man pool, and barring illness and injury will likely have an opportunity to work for former world champion and top Tour contender Cadel Evans.
“Without a doubt my role would be to help Cadel,” Bookwalter said. “He has shown this year that he is a real contender. He has done three stage races and won two of them, which is a better rate than the other contenders. I think we are all 100 percent committed to him. I feel like I can embrace that role really well. I think I have shown that I am versatile and that they can count on me for the whole three weeks.”