BMC received a late wildcard just a month ago to Paris-Roubaix and scrambled to get eight riders ready for one of the most difficult one-day races on the UCI calendar. Three riders of the American team were able to finish the race. Sports director John Lelangue was happy, knowing the race would be a learning experience.
"Paris-Roubaix is always a difficult race, but I am really, really proud of how our team did," John Lelangue said. "It is challenging not only for the racers but also for the staff, so I am enormously impressed with how well our entire team worked throughout the day."
Brent Bookwalter acknowledged that the stories beforehand didn't prepare him for reality. "First impression was that it was just such a crazy race," the first-time finisher said. "We all came in expecting it to be crazy, but the magnitude of the crowd and the nervous energy of the field really turned this into another animal."
BMC team members worked well together and watched out for each other. "We were very lucky early in the race with few mechanicals, and the guys were all able to keep themselves out of trouble for the most part," Lelangue explained.
"I was far back in car number 24 in the caravan, though, so when one of the guys did have a problem, their teammates or staff members placed along the route were there to help riders in trouble."
Flag pole in the front wheel
Alex Moos was BMC's best finisher in 68th place, but more was possible. Moos entered the cobbled section of the Carrefour de l'Arbre well-placed in the main peloton, but a spectator accidentally put a flag pole through his front wheel. "Alex crashed very hard in the Carrefour de l'Arbre and was beat up pretty badly," Lelangue explained. "He must have lost eight or nine minutes there because he needed a new bike."
With a cut on the head and a bloodied knee and elbow, Moos was forced to race the last 17 kilometres on his own. "I am really proud of how hard Alex fought to finish the race even with his injuries," Lelangue said. "Brent Bookwalter and Ian McKissick also did a fantastic job of fighting to the last cobble."
Bookwalter said it was easy to find the motivation to fight to the vélodrome. "This is one of those races that everyone wants to finish. Everyone knows the history and will push through a lot more pain; Alex's crash is a prime example: after a crash like that in any other one day race, he probably would have abandoned, but since it was Roubaix he just had to keep on fighting till the end."
Lelangue also praised the people in the background. "As well as the riders did, I can't say enough about just how hard and how well the staff did their jobs too," Lelangue said. "Without the overwhelming efficiency and professionalism of our soigneurs and mechanics, I am certain we would have never had three finishers in the race.
"Honestly when I saw the staff at work during the race, it seemed to me that they had been doing this race for the past 10 years instead of this being their first time."
The balance was positive. "In our first attempt as a team at Paris-Roubaix, to have three finishers from such a young group is a real accomplishment," Lelangue said. "Alex, Brent and Ian are a part of the history of finishing this event which is, along with the Tour of Flanders, the hardest one-day race anywhere in the world."