Ochowicz regrets loss of two BMC climbers after crash
The BMC Racing team came to the Amgen Tour of California with the goal of delivering American Tejay van Garderen to the overall victory, but the team's ride so far has been rocky. General manager Jim Ochowicz confirmed to Cyclingnews that Steve Morabito and Stephen Cummings would not be able to take the stage 3 start in San Jose due to injuries sustained in the previous day's crash with 4km to go.
Morabito sustained deep wounds to his left elbow and shoulder and will visit a local clinic for x-rays on his shoulder today, while Cummings re-injured the same wrist which he broke six weeks ago.
"It's a shame they aren't able to continue," Ochowivz told Cyclingnews. "Both of them are good climbers and were here to work for Tejay. But, we'll carry on without them as best we can."
It was the third major injury of the year for Cummings, who broke his pelvis in the Volta ao Algarve in February and came back in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco only to break his wrist on stage 5.
"I've got experience at this now," Cummings joked on his latest injury. "So if my wrist is broken again, I'll just go on the trainer and it won't take me long to come back."
The crash was the second of the day for the team, as two riders tumbled on the Empire Grade ascent without injury, and then with 4km to go the team was lined up on the right side of the road on the rapid run into Aptos when disaster struck. "It happened so fast I didn't even have time to brake," Morabito said. "It was a huge road and there were only 60 guys so it was a case of being in the right place at the wrong time."
Morabito was a key climber on the team who will be missed when the race hits the high mountains on Friday for the Big Bear finish and then Mt. Baldy stage on Saturday. While he was slated to work for van Garderen, he has the ability to finish high in the general classification as well, last year claiming ninth. "California is always a good race for me," Morabito said. "I really focused a lot on this race and was working hard to be in shape and ready for the last four days."
Ochowicz said the team will now protect the position of van Garderen, who is 10 seconds off the pace of race leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale). Despite featuring significant climbs in the first two stages, the race has failed to break up as many expected it to.
"If you want to win the race, you have to be aggressive. Liquigas is riding for Sagan, and it's nice to have the lead now, but ultimately they'll want to put Nibali up the road."
That said, Ochowicz didn't expect van Garderen to go on the attack himself. "Tejay will follow wheels. The time trial is important, and it is one of his strengths. Maybe Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner are thinking the same thing."