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2009 SUMMARY: The breakthrough victory BMC were hoping for eluded them, having secured Pro Continental status and got wild cards to several big races. In the end, they had no wins at all at 1.1/2.1 level and higher, coming closest when Markus Zberg took second on a stage at the Dauphiné. There were wins, however, at domestic races in the US and Switzerland. More positively, their good crop of young riders gained valuable experience.
LOOKING AHEAD: Co-owners Jim Ochowicz and Andy Rihs have plenty of good and bad experience of the top level of bike racing and look to have taken a big step in the right direction. Riders who showed promise at BMC have been kept on and will be able to take advantage of the knowledge and ability of the new stars brought in to raise the standard. There may not be any regular winners here but quality will count a lot more than quantity if Evans, Ballan, Hincapie and Kroon deliver where they have done in the past.
THE LINE-UP: If you’re intent on moving into the big time, signing the outgoing and incoming world champions is a good start. And with Marcus Burghardt, George Hincapie, Alessandro Ballan and Karsten Kroon, BMC have the riders to be in contention in the northern Classics. The lateness of Cadel Evans’s arrival means his support crew for the major tours won’t compare favourably with most of his rivals, though.
ONE TO WATCH: Few can rival the connections team manager Lelangue has to the Tour de France. His father, Bob, was a team-mate of Eddy Merckx and former Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc’s driver, while John worked for Leblanc organising the Tour before he left to manage Phonak. Like so many others, BMC are after a Tour wild card place and Lelangue’s influence could provide them with an edge.