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BMC team boss outlines strategy leading into the Tour de France
Following last year's Tour de France, BMC were widely expected to bring in another climber or two in order to beef up their support for team leaders Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen in the mountains. However, despite being seriously outgunned by Team Sky on the climbs at last year's Tour de France, the Swiss/American outfit have stuck pretty much with what they already had, believing that what worked so well for them in 2011 when Evans won the Tour can work just as well this year, when the Australian hopes to be back to full fitness.
Team manager Jim Ochowicz recognises that BMC don't have a lot of climbers, but insists that there is no reason to think that they won't challenge for the yellow jersey again.
"It's not a secret that we don't have a lot of climbers. Everybody knows that. We weren't like Sky, for example, last year and we won't be like Sky this year either. In fact, we don't want to be like Sky. We want to be like us. We have our ideas about how we can race this team, and I think we have a good balance. We can go to every race and be competitive, and that includes the Tour," the veteran team boss explained at BMC's press presentation.
Ochowicz added that the team's signings, of which the most notable is Italian sprinter/rouleur Daniel Oss, had been made with the whole season in mind rather than just one race.
"What you have to remember about the Tour is that it changes every year. I can't build a team of 26 riders around what the Tour is going to decide to do in 2014, for example, because I won't know until next October where the race is going to be in 2014.
"We know it's going to start in England, but I don't know how hilly it's going to be, whether it will have a team time trial, a prologue. I have to think about the whole calendar, so we've got a pretty well-rounded team for the Tour where we can go in and get it done. We got it done in 2011 without a big climbing team, although Cadel was also in better shape."
Pressed on likely selections for the Tour, Ochowicz said: "Clearly, we're not making any yet. Overall, I would say we like the route this year, we think it suits us well. We also think we've got a couple of riders who should add something on the climbs.
"Dominik Nerz is one rider who I think that people will soon see a lot of. He did a lot for Vincenzo Nibali in the mountains in 2012, and we think he'll do the same for Cadel and Tejay. We've also got some other guys on the team who haven't been exposed to the Tour yet, such as Mathias Frank."
Asked about any possible change of tactics to deal with the Sky steamroller in the mountains, Ochowicz said: "We're never going to ride like Sky did – I don't even like that kind of riding. They won the Tour but I found it very boring. We tried to attack the race one day and it was impossible, but at least we tried.
"I like a more open race like the year Cadel won. I think that's more of the style of Tour you will see this year with Alberto Contador back and Andy Schleck back as well. Also, Sky have lost Michael Rogers, who was one of the key elements to their success at the Tour. So there's been a softening in some other teams and we've stepped it up a bit."
Tour de France not immediate goal for Hushovd
Ochowicz admitted that Thor Hushovd could feature in BMC's plans for the Tour, but made it clear that this decision is still a very long way off.
"The important thing for Thor Hushovd right now is not the Tour de France. He's going to Argentina and we want to see him start in Argentina and finish in Argentina, and finish healthy. Then he can make the next step in the Belgian races with the goal of doing something in Flanders and Roubaix. We have to take it one step at a time because he's coming back. He's very good right now in his head and his body, and we want to keep it that way."
As manager of the Motorola team back in the 1990s, Ochowicz was the man who brought Lance Armstrong into professional peloton. The two men remained close even after Motorola folded in 1996 and Ochowicz started down a new path as a wealth management consultant. However, the BMC team boss said he has not been in touch with his former team leader "for a while" and added that he had no idea what to expect of Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey.