BMC 'stay out of trouble' on Tour of Utah opener

On the eve of the Tour of Utah, Brent Bookwalter told Cyclingnews there would be 'some extra pressure on' his BMC squad as the sole WorldTour team. Stage 1's Logan to Logan jaunt proved a rather straight forward day for Bookwalter and his teammates who let their rivals take up the chase of the peloton and then organise the bunch sprint.

Martin Elmiger snagged fifth for the team after a last kilometre attack by Silvan Dillier, his first race as the Swiss national champion, with sports director Jack Stewart explaining he was content with the results and that there were no nasty GC surprises.

"I think today was a good stage. We wanted to keep Brent Bookwalter out of trouble and we weren't really thinking of the stage win, rather letting the breakaway go," Stewart said. "But the other teams wanted to sprint and Martin Elmiger got in there which was good. We drew car 15 before the race, so it will be nice to have a better car position from tomorrow when the GC battle will start."

Stewart added that initially, rival teams wanted BMC to take up the first row on the peloton while he was focused on ensuring the 'wrong' riders didn't get clear in the early-breakaway. With Stage 2 likely to see a major shake up on the GC, Stewart explained he is expecing a nervous day in the team car.

"All of the teams are looking at us but we didn't want to have to control today, especially without the jersey. We just wanted to make sure a huge breakaway didn't go away," he said. "As we got closer to the first climb we were less worried because we knew guys like Joey Rosskopf and Kilian Frankiny could jump in it, but as it turned out the breakaway went just before. Everyone will be looking to get into the breakaway tomorrow so it's going to be tough."

For Elmiger, the fifth place result was his best of the season after an off-season change to BMC from IAM Cycling. The 38-year-old hasn't won a race since the 2014 Swiss nationals but explained that he believed with a better position in the finale, he could have taken the victory.

"I think if I had more space I could have won the sprint. I was in the perfect position but I could not pass. I was a little surprised because on the last corner somehow I was in the first position," Elmiger said. "When I first arrived in Utah I was suffering a little bit in the first days of training because I didn't train specifically for this race or at altitude, I enjoyed a nice summer at home training normally in Switzerland. Today, the legs were ok though. But, it's going to be hard from now on. Tomorrow is a nice stage for the GC guys. We saw the stage four days ago so we know the roads."

With several cards to play for the overall, Bookwalter explained pre-race to Cyclingnews that he believes BMC has the right balance even though he is coming in underdone.

"California was my big goal for the first part of the year, and then this is part of the rebuilding for the second half.," Bookwalter told  "We have Joey coming off a strong TT ride in nationals, and we have Kilian Frankiny. I don't know if a lot of Americans recognise his name, but he's a pure climber and he's really motivated for this race. He's been training really hard for it at home, and he's been up high in the mountains in Switzerland, so I think he could be a surprise this week that maybe people aren't expecting."

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