Tejay van Garderen will replace Manuel Quinziato in BMC Racing's squad for the team time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen on Sunday, and the American wasted no time in declaring that other teams might be afraid of BMC's TTT prowess.
The team go into the event looking to avenge last year's defeat to Quick-Step Floors and are hunting their third win in the discipline. Van Garderen will lead their line alongside Rohan Dennis, Stefan Kung, Daniel Oss, Silvan Dillier and Miles Scotson.
In the recent Vuelta a España test, BMC came out on top, beating their Belgian rivals into second place, although the two parcours are far from similar in terms of length and profile.
"It almost feels rare when we lose team time trials these days, but to come off a recent victory in a team time trial at the Vuelta, that certainly shows the level of the team, the motivation of the team, and the confidence," van Garderen told the media on Friday evening.
BMC last came out of the Worlds TTT with a gold in Richmond, 2015, and four of this year's riders were present in that winning ride. Of all the squads in Norway they arrive with perhaps the most consistent squad of all, although the fight for the medals is currently too close to call.
"It's always good when you've been the world champions to make a statement and put on a good show in the team time trial," van Garderen said. "I think that the other teams are certainly watching us. We definitely have our eyes on some of the other teams, but they're maybe a little bit afraid of us."
While BMC and Quick-Step head into the event as the only two teams to have won gold, they are far from the only strong teams in Bergen. Team Sky have brought Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski, while Sunweb and Orica both have designs on making the podium.
Dennis knows from experience that time trial success can come down to fine margins.
"There's no part of the course where you can relax," the Australian said.
"It's hard to remember the whole course as well," he said after previewing it. "We've done it fully twice and we'll do it tomorrow with full road closures, so that will make it a bit easier to remember, but it's going to be the hardest course we've had in a Worlds team time trial.
"Everyone has to do it, and it's going to be a little bit stressful, but if you win, it's more special. We still have our challengers, and there are other teams that are very strong as well. For me, when I look at our team, people can say we're the favourites but I just don't look at it like that."
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