Dripping wet and shivering in the cold conditions, only Nicolas Roche offered up any dialogue as he clambered onto the bus. 'I feel dead' the Irishman said after a brutal day of racing that saw Richie Porte's chances of winning the race implode after the Australian lost over 14 minutes.
During the morning briefing, BMC and Porte team knew that the weather would play its part, with driving rain and wind once again on the menu. The loss of Michael Schär, who crashed out on stage 1, was a blow but the team truly felt the effects once Porte and his teammates were scattered in the blustery conditions on the road to Amilly.
"It was a really hard day for us. Of course we lost Schär yesterday and he was an important guy for this sort of race," Valerio Piva told Cyclingnews.
"Without this guy we couldn't keep Richie in the front. Richie was there but in one moment he was in a bad position and no one was there for us. He was dropped and of course with this weather, and temperature it's not the best for him."
Piva was in the team's second car during the stage but was aware of the team's situation when race radio crackled into life and confirmed Porte's predicament.
"We tried to come back, and in the feed zone it was more or less 1:30 to the leaders. But then at the front there were more attacks and we've lost the chance today for GC. We will continue but we'll look forward. It was a bad day but that was the race."
The question will inevitably be why Porte – a former winner of this race and a genuine contender for the Tour de France podium – was left isolated at such a vital moment in the race. The remaining six BMC riders rallied around their leader but the damage was already done. If stage 1 was a mini-disaster, Monday's stage was game over in the battle for GC.
Piva pointed to the weather but also the line-up BMC chose for this race.
"This race is very hard in the final and we've brought more riders here who can follow on the climbs. I repeat, we had Schar here to do this job and he was there with Francisco Ventoso and Danilo [ed. Wyss] but we know the job Schar does for Greg Van Avermaet in the Classics and missing one guy was the big problem."
"We knew in the morning that it would be a difficult day to stay at the front. A lot of leaders were a bit in trouble, and everyone was alone, but Richie was too far behind. He had a problem with the cold, and he lost too much time around the feed zone."
With the yellow jersey out of reach BMC will be forced to turn their attention to stage wins. In Porte, Roche and Alessandro De Marchi they certainly have options.
"Stage [wins] are possible, and we'll try for something. We'll show that we're still a big team."
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