BMC Racing came up empty handed after a day in the thick of the action at the Tour of the Alps, but their performance and so their satisfaction was far better than their results. Swiss neo-pro Kilian Frankiny was part of the strong break of the day that was swept up a kilometre from the finish, and then Rohan Dennis took a close third place in the sprint in Cles.
BMC gave Dennis the best lead out they could in the hectic sprint, and he came through fast and late but was unable to catch Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) at the line.
Dennis was frustrated and angry immediately after going close to victory, but later he saw his glass half full after surviving the tough climbs and rolling roads in the apple orchards of the Val di Non. On Wednesday, he struggled in the cold and on the climbs, finishing 4:15 down on current leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). That put a dent in his pride, but he bounced back on Thursday and rediscovered his natural confidence.
"I didn’t win, but that’s the way it is," Dennis said.
"It would have been better to win, but I’ve got to look to the positives and that’s the climbing aspect of the day. I got over the last steep climb and that’s a bit of redemption after what happened yesterday when I got dropped. Maybe I just didn’t feel good in the cold, but today I bounced back on the climbs and felt good. Yesterday I suffered a lot on the second to last climb, while today I was quite comfortable. I can take some positives from today."
Dennis knows that he has time on his side before he faces some serious climbs in the final week of the Giro d’Italia and is hoping to return to the Italian Alps and Dolomites with far better high-end threshold.
"I hope my form just keeps going in the right direction. There’s time. It’s not that it’s all over and done with because I lost four minutes yesterday," Dennis said of his goal to perform well at the Giro d’Italia and discover his true Grand Tour ability.
"I knew that it could have happened. But I also know that I’ve done the base training. Now it’s all about getting that high intensity back. That’s what I’ve got to focus on between now and the Giro d’Italia."
Neo-pro Frankiny shows his talents by going on the attack
Frankiny is somewhat overshadowed in BMC’s roster of big-name and experienced domestiques. Yet he has a superb Under 23 palmares and won the prestigious Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta race in 2016.
It should therefore have been no surprise that Frankiny looked strong on yet another hard day of racing at the Tour of the Alps. He revealed that it was only a lack of cohesive co-operation that stopped the break from staying clear of the chasers.
"It was a strong headwind at the end, and the final 10km was constantly up and down, so it was pretty tough to hold on, but I thought we might have enough time. Then, when Dupont joined us in the closing kilometres, I think we got our tactics a bit wrong and we could have worked better together," he admitted.
"At the beginning, I felt really good in the group, and we were all working well together. Everybody was doing their job. Then when we hit the steep slopes of that second climb, and Pirazzi attacked, and I wasn't able to follow. He was always around 10 seconds in front of me, and it was so steep that I could see him all the time. I knew that I was better on the descent, so I just focused on pacing myself to the top."
Frankiny was part of the BMC team that won the team time trial stage at the Volta a Catalunya but has yet to leave his mark in a road race.
He went extremely close at the Tour of the Alps and will take his excellent form home to Switzerland for the Tour de Romandie that starts near the UCI headquarters in Aigle.
"At the moment I am a little disappointed that we weren't able to go all the way to the line, but when I look back on today's stage, I can be proud of my effort," Frankiny said.
"For me, every race is a learning opportunity and today was just the same."