A brilliant piece of support for Cadel Evans or a huge waste of energy? Team BMC's lead-out to Super-Besse was certainly the most commented upon subject on Saturday at the Tour de France. The American squad offered a strong show of power for the whole stage, until Garmin-Cervélo and Astana joined forces with them at the front of the bunch about 50 kilometres from the finish.
Team manager John Lelangue was obviously delighted by his troops’ attitude. “We had a very nice and very peaceful day,” he said.
Asked why his riders had decided to control the peloton, the Belgian explained they “had to do that” because of Cadel Evans's second position overall, one second behind Thor Hushovd. “We knew Garmin-Cervélo was not going to do that work, as there were a very small possibility that Hushovd would save his jersey. So it was our responsibility to ride.”
Lelangue also said that he was concerned by Tejay Van Garderen (HTC) being in the breakaway. “He's a very good rider and we couldn't give him 20 minutes like that.” The young American was 8:06 down on GC this morning and he lost three minutes on the final haul to Super-Besse once the peloton caught him in the very last kilometres.
Amaël Moinard gave another reason for why BMC led the peloton. “It was good to support Cadel,” the French domestique explained. “We trust him and now he knows he can trust us. What we did is pretty encouraging for the next stages.”
The team weakened in the last 20 kilometres, however, and couldn't close the gap to breakaway winner Rui Costa (Movistar), nor could they prevent Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) from slipping clear on the climb. As a result, Evans’s uphill sprint did not deliver the stage win as it had done at Mûr-de-Bretagne, and he also missed the yellow jersey.
"It’s better like that,” Lelangue said. “It was not our goal to take the yellow jersey. If we had done that, we would have left it go in the coming stages.”
The team manager recalled that his day’s plan was “to control the race, perhaps take a bit of time and make some riders lose time – and that's what happened to Robert Gesink.”
Obviously tired on the last ascent, Rabobank leader lost one minute to his main rivals.
When Cyclingnews asked Lelangue if it was risky to have his riders set such a strong tempo and if they could be exhausted after just a week of the race, he answered: “Do you think my guys will be cooked because I put two of them in the front of the bunch?”
In short, he said that he had “no regrets” about his tactics.