United States of America Criterium Champion John Murphy has signed a two-year deal with BMC Racing team beginning in 2010. Murphy’s move means the stars and stripes jersey may not be in action in the North American nation, because his contract will likely land him in the thick of a full European schedule beginning with the spring Classics.
“Hopefully the second year will be more clear about what’s going to happen and what my role is over there,” Murphy told Cyclingnews. “I know the schedule will be mostly in Europe, so I will live over there and the team will be all over there. They will send teams to the big races in the US but I don’t know when I will come back. I hope to do as many of the Classics as possible and help out there. Hopefully I’ll do well wherever they put me, I think that’s the reason they put me on the team.”
Murphy signed the dotted line in mid-September after lengthy discussions with team manager Gavin Chillcot and directeur sportif Mike Sayers. The team felt that he would fit the role of a Classics rider, according to Murphy. “Help in the Classics: that’s what I think I’m on the team for and it’s where I can help the most,” he said. “Hopefully I can do my job whatever that is, whether it’s fetching bottles or leading out sprints. I’m up for whatever.”
The Spring Classics are scheduled to begin in March at Italy's Milan-Sanremo, with the peloton then heading to Belgium for the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem, France for Paris - Roubaix, The Netherlands for Amstel Gold Race and back to Belgium in April for La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Murphy joins a series of big name signings that include George Hincapie, Amstel Gold runner-up Karsten Kroon, 2008 World Champion Alessandro Ballan, Tour de France stage winner Marcus Burghardt along with Steve Moribito, Mauro Santambrogio and neo-professional Alexander Kristoff.
“I think that I’m trying not to think about it while also trying to be ready for it,” said a slightly anxious Murphy. “All I can do is ride my bike and be ready for the year and be fit. I haven’t done any of these races before especially at the professional level. We’ll see how it goes there are no predictions on it. All I can do is work with my coach, Jason Tullous in Tuscon, Arizona. Training is not changing that much, I just have to get going earlier and start sooner to make sure I’m ready.”
From Athens to Girona
The Athens, Georgia native is no stranger to the lifestyle of European competition, having spent two years with the Under 23 US development program in 2005 and 2006. His junior years as a mountain biker proved to come in handy over the technical terrain of European road racing. Once he started on the road in 2004 it didn’t take long for the American-based professional team Health Net-Maxxis to notice his skills in 2007 and then 2008 as OUCH-Maxxis.
This year, he placed second to Australia’s Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia) in the US Criterium Championships held in Downers Grove, Illinois. However as the first American to cross the line, he earned his first stars and stripes jersey.
“I didn’t really win but I guess that was a big result,” said Murphy, who will make his home-base in Girona, Spain. “It’s a national championship so I can’t play it down any so it’s a highlight for sure. I don’t think I’ll wear it much next year. BMC’s program is going to be 95-percent in Europe from my understanding. It will be a Europe based program next year.”
Murphy has competed in nearly 30 national championship events during his road and mountain bike careers and victory was scarce. He will not have the opportunity to wear the national championship jersey in Europe where criteriums are not recognised as championship events.
“I would like to showcase my jersey in the US but I couldn’t turn down and an opportunity in Europe either,” he said. “A jersey has eluded me for a long time. I figure I’ll still wear it when I come back. It would be awesome to do Athens Twilight in the jersey. But that, won’t happen cause I’ll probably be in the Classics.”
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