Van Avermaet the 'lucky card' for BMC's Tour de France team time trial success

Performance director Pinotti says team could have picked up a few more seconds

Marco Pinotti, the magician behind BMC Racing's regularly excellent team time trial performances, was beaming with joy after the squad's stunning ride that delivered the Tour de France TTT stage win on Monday in Cholet, and along with it the yellow jersey for Greg Van Avermaet.

The 42-year-old Italian performance director prepared the BMC riders specifically for the stage, and shortly after they finished their ride he talked about the build-up and the performance. In a first analysis, Pinotti pointed out a few seconds BMC lost to Sky in the final part of the course.

"We probably had a few corners in the final part that were bad," Pinottti said. "Maybe it's something to do with confidence that they didn't want to take risks. They were a little bit too grouped together. Luckily, there were still four seconds in the end. The goal for me was to win the team time trial. The yellow jersey was the bonus."

During the build-up to the race, Pinotti introduced innovations like new shoes and new skinsuits, which were also used at the Tour de Suisse. He scouted the course and then had the riders pre-ride the course in Cholet last Wednesday.

"First we did a recon on the map, but then we did a first recon on the course on Wednesday," he said. "The whole team flew in on Tuesday night. On Wednesday we had the possibility of riding the course without any traffic. We do the same for other team time trials. The most important recon was this morning. You see the people, the area. It was the final preparation."

When analysing the 35.5km course, Pinotti mainly focused on the climbs and the roundabouts.

"It was a fast course that was interrupted by three climbs," he said. "You gain climbing metres in a short time. It was really fast. There were a lot of roundabouts from which the riders had to get out of the saddle and relaunch."

Pinotti was in the team car behind the riders and was pleased with the performance of the whole team.

"Stefan Küng is probably the most experienced rider in the team," he said. "We also knew that Patrick Bevin was a good one. Greg Van Avermaet was one of the strongest, but he had special motivation with the possibility of taking the yellow jersey. To me, the most positive surprise was Tejay van Garderen. He's been doing consistent time trials this year, including individual ones. The whole team was good. We knew Michael Schär would get dropped, but he did a great job. Everybody was there almost until the end."

With Van Avermaet in a position to take the yellow jersey, the team discussed before the race what they'd do if he or GC rider Richie Porte had a mechanical.

"Our leader is Richie, so the plan was that if Greg had a flat tyre, we wouldn't wait," Pinotti said. "We only would have waited for Richie. It's because we're going for the  overall win. If you get a flat tyre, you'll lose at least 20 seconds, if not more. That's too much."

He did confess that Van Avermaet was becoming some sort of talisman for the team.

"Greg is my 'lucky card' nowadays. Since the Tour de France in 2015, we've won all the team time trials. Obviously, he's not the only one, and it's mainly because we win a lot, but still," Pinotti smiled.

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