By Kirsten Robbins in Springfield, Missouri
Team BMC announced Thursday that it will be taking on John Lelangue as a second director sportif for the 2008 season. The team, currently under the direction of Gavin Chilcott, has applied for UCI Professional Continental status heading into it's second season, and will likely be forming a stronger presence on the European circuit. As the former team manager of the now defunct Phonak ProTour squad, Lelangue will be extending his European cycling experience to the team.
Lelangue joined the BMC squad for the first time at the inaugural Tour of Missouri and commented on his new position as a chance to share his experiences with the young team in helping them develop into team that will survive for years to come. "I hope to bring a lot of experience to the team and a good structure," said Lelangue. "I had seen the BMC team working together in May over in Europe which is where we came in contact. It seems like a good project with a good vision for the future and that is what important to me."
"The fact that we will know step-by-step which races we will be doing as a UCI Pro Continental team, we are going to discover a lot about European racing even if some of the events are on the American calendar," added Lelangue. "If I can bring my experience to the team about European racing, strategy and training than it will be great experience for me also."
BMC grows with new signings
Director Gavin Chilcott confirmed five new riders to the team including Nathan O'Neil and Jeff Louder from Health Net, Tony Cruz from Discovery Channel along with younger riders Brent Brookwalter from VMG Racing and Talyor Tolleson from Slipstream-Chipotle. Returning riders include Alexander Moos, Mike Sayers, Jackson Stewart, Scott Nydam, Jonathan Garcia and Ian McKissick. Chilcott has confirmed a roster of twelve and is currently in negotiations with four additional riders.
With a strong mix of both European and American riders Lelangue is hopeful that the team will develop in parallel with the growing crossover between European and American cycling. "One of our vision is to grow up step-by-step along with the relationship between European and American racing," said Lelangue.
The team will head into the 2008 season with a well-balanced schedule between Europe and the US, using the Tour of Qatar as preparation to come on strong at the Tour of California. They will then return overseas to compete several blocks of European racing. "We are currently seeking invitations for many of the European races," said Chilcott. "The focus of our events will be the Swiss races, because we have a Swiss sponsor and we have Swiss riders that will be focusing on these events. So that is the cornerstone of our mid-season platform."
Chilcott described his vision of BMC as a carefully developed creation that is being designed to continue its involvement in the sport for many years. "We want to take a rational approach to advancing the team, to progressively be able to do well at a higher and higher level," Chilcott said. "That is not so different from other teams, but I think we are really focusing on good planning, preparation and good support."
Helping in the development of the squad are Dr. Max Testa and USA Cycling trainer Eric Heiden who will help the team progress by making proper choices with regards to training. "I believe we are in a good position to take advantage of the new culture happening in cycling, as things turn over in response to the mistakes that have been made in the last decade," said Chilcott.
"I am very optimistic that we are recruiting people involved in the program like Max and Eric that will allow us to make good educated choices based on input from those people with a lot of the right kind of experience and philosophy aimed at a sustainable program for years. That is our goal, to make decisions that will good decisions for many years down the road."
"We are trying to build riders from within, trying to find riders that are good leaders or have good talent, and create rather than just acquire," added Chilcott. "We can create a culture, a philosophy of riding honourably as well as clean, and really provide a good product for race organisers and sponsors - and provide something for the riders where there is continuity to get better performances and a better preparation. People understand that we are thinking in the long term and I believe that is the winning strategy."