The BMC Racing Team has concluded the 2008 Tour of California in style. Entering the race with a mix of experienced professionals and young talent, they raced actively the whole week. They were able to pick up the reward in Pasadena after the final stage, winning the Most Aggressive Team of the tour award. "We are very honoured that the organization decided to recognise the team as a whole," General Manager Gavin Chilcott said after the end of the stage. "This is not a standard award, but has been offered to us in response to a message from the media, regarding our team's performance over the past week."
In the midst of BMC's success in California, Gavin Chilcott was quick to recognise some of the people who have helped his young team get to this point. "Last year Jim Birrel and Kevin Livingston went out on a limb and invited us to the Tour of California," Chilcott recalled. "And though we didn't always perform last year as well as we would have liked, we learned a lot and without that experience we couldn't have made it to this level today." In cycling it is as important to have the races organised as it is to have the racers who want to participate. "Jim and Kevin have made a great commitment to helping up and coming teams, and without their support American cycling would be missing great mentors," said Chilcott, who was very keen to acknowledge this behind-the-scenes support.
"I am proud and happy for the team, though not surprised," Chilcott said. "Everyone was well prepared. We have the right staff, the right sponsors, and the right group of riders, who are all dedicated to doing their best. I am very pleased that we have reaped the benefits from all the preparations we made for this race," Chilcott explained. "Qatar was a worthwhile experience for all the young guys, and the time we spent in training camp; previewing some of the more important mountain climbs has also paid dividends." BMC's success includes a respectable team placement, the King of the Mountain jersey and Alex Moos appearing in the top ten in the general classification. The team also held the jersey for most aggressive rider two days in a row.
Directeur Sportif John Lelangue was also happy. "We were on the podium every day with the most aggressive rider and/or the King of the Mountain; we were always aggressive and always on the offensive," Lelangue continued. "It was a good time for the team, and team spirit is very high."
Though the cold weather and highly contagious viruses that ravaged the peloton as a whole also impacted the BMC squad, all of the individual accomplishments were made possible by the whole team. "I said yesterday that this KOM jersey is a victory for the team and that without them, I wouldn't have this honour," Scott Nydam reported. The fact that this had been the Tour of California with the hardest climbing yet, had not escaped Nydam. "Everyone worked so hard for this jersey. I just wish Jackson could be here to share this."
Jackson Stewart held the KOM jersey as well as the most aggressive rider jersey after his epic solo breakaway on Stage 1. Unfortunately, hypothermia on the frigid stage 4 derailed his chances of taking the KOM jersey, which he and Nydam kept passing back and forth. "Jackson really did so much for this jersey and for the team," Nydam said. "He set the tone for the week."
It had been an emotional week for Nydam, who has been dealing with the pain of hearing his father is seriously ill. "I keep fighting to help him keep fighting," Nydam reported earlier this week. Sharing some podium time with his trusted training partner, Levi Leipheimer, had also added to Nydam's morale. "It has been such a special week," Nydam enthused. "Being on the podium with Levi has been such an unexpected reward for all the work we do together. It has been extremely special." As Andy Rihs said, "these young guys are the best this sport has to offer, and I am proud and happy to be a part of the project!"
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