American surprised by Garmin-Cervélo's failure to aid chase
While BMC ultimately did not claim the honours at the Tour of Flanders, team president Jim Ochowicz could not hide his satisfaction at his squad’s performance on the road to Meerbeke.
When Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) launched a seemingly winning move on the Leberg and bridged to Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), it was BMC who took responsibility for the chase behind and altered the complexion of the race ahead of the finale.
“We’re very happy,” Ochowicz told Cyclingnews after the finish. “We want to race our bikes and in order to do that you have to be on the front sometimes. We have to choose our moments, you can’t be there all day but we thought that was the right time to try and bring the race back together. When Cancellara was with Chavanel and they had a minute, we put our people on the front and we got them back.”
If BMC’s red jerseys were a sizeable and forceful presence on the head of the chasing group, a number of other teams were notable by their absence, chief among them Garmin-Cervélo, a squad widely-expected to make a collective impact at De Ronde.
“I was a little surprised Garmin didn’t come up, they still had Tyler Farrar, Hushovd and Haussler, but if you don’t make the race, you don’t have a chance to win the race,” Ochowicz said. “We don’t want to race for second or third. We don’t win that many races, but at least we try.”
Although neither Alessandro Ballan nor George Hincapie was able to cap BMC’s stint of at the front by taking victory, Ochowicz was pleased that his charges had contributed so generously to the racing on Sunday.
“The outcome didn’t give us a win, but it looks good and it feels good,” he said. “The morale on the team is working and if we keep doing that, we’re bound to get one of these races in our pockets some day I hope.”
Cancellara the man to beat on the rocky road to Roubaix
When Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) attacked on the final climb of the Bosberg, Alessandro Ballan was the first man to respond, and both the Italian and Hincapie were present in the twelve-man group that contested the win on the run-in to Meerbeke.
“Both of them did a great job at the end,” Ochowicz said. “When you look at the twelve guys in the finale, they were all good riders, nobody got there by slouching for the day. They all had good legs to be there.”
In the end, however, it was Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) who won out, as he latched on to Cancellara and Chavanel when they again went clear in the closing kilometres, while Hincapie was BMC’s highest finisher in 6th.
Although the anticipated Cancellara victory never materialised, Ochowicz acknowledged that the Swiss rider was still the strongest man in the race, even if he was not at the same level as twelve months ago.
“If you think about where he was last year, [Sunday] wouldn’t have happened, he would have blown the doors off everybody,” Ochowicz said. “Today he made a great effort, he was the strongest rider in the race but you don’t always win if you’re the strongest rider in the race.
Nonetheless, Ochowicz believes that Cancellara remains the biggest single obstacle between BMC and glory at Paris-Roubaix next weekend.
“He’s Cancellara, right? He doesn’t give up easily,” Ochowicz said. “He’s a great athlete and at this moment probably the best rider in the world. But that’s great, we like that challenge and we’ll be in there again next Sunday fighting for it.”