What's Cool In Road Cycling

BMC: Stars Of The Future

Just when I thought the team visits and presentations were over for the year I received an invitation from Sean Weide to come over to the BMC hotel to see what their development team was all about. Cadel Evans and some of the other guys from the WorldTour team were there, but it was the young guys I was here to talk to.

The team has been using the Marriott La Sella Resort hotel between Denia and Javea for the last few years, previously they presented the team here also, but this year the hotel was only a training venue as the presentation was held in their Concept Store in Eke, Belgium, so no posh dinner for me this year!

It’s always easy to find team hotels!

When I got to the hotel Sean and Isaura Van Lancker, the BMC Racing Team’s new press officer and daughter of Garmin-Sharp director sportif Eric Van Lancker was waiting for me with the first coffee, but as the plan was for the riders to go for a ride at 10, we had to catch the man behind managing the team; Rik Verbrugghe for his plans for the young riders. The Belgian ex-professional raced from 1996 to 2008, he then took up the job of DS with Quick-Step and has been working with BMC since 2011, and this year running the BMC Development Team.

PEZ: How easy was it for you to change from a rider to a manager?
Well, I think cycling is my life, so it wasn’t so hard to change.

PEZ: Was it difficult to stop being a rider?
No, In 2006 I had a bad crash and broke my leg and then two years later I had a stupid crash in San Sebastian and broke my collar bone and at that moment I hit the ground and felt that my collar bone was broken, I said; “that’s too much,” it was enough.

PEZ: Do you prefer to work with the development team to the ProTour team?
Rik Verbrugghe:
It’s another job and I like to work with the young guys and also I have more to do here as I have to do nearly everything, it’s more like being a team manager; I needed to find all the fourteen riders who are in the team next year. I need to make the calendar and many other things, more than with the pro team. But for me it’s very interesting.

PEZ: What about the race calendar for the Development Team, it’s pretty big?
Yea, it’s a nice calendar. There are a lot of nice races at a good level, for the young guys there are a lot of Under 23 races, which are not too high a level, plus some UCI 2.2’s and French Cup races where they will be mixing with Pro riders from Cofidis etc. so yes it’s a pretty nice calendar and I’m very interested to see how the team does. Important early-season races for us will be the Tour de Normandy in March, Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April and the Giro Bio in June, plus all the Under 23 stage races and one-day races in between.

PEZ: Can you prioritise races for certain riders, like in the ProTour team?
Yes, I have already done that for all the guys, but I can change that if one of them has bad form or because of a crash or whatever. But all my riders have a plan for the whole year and he knows where he is going and what condition he should be in at those times.

PEZ: So it’s all much the same as the WorldTour team, same bikes, clothes etc.
Yes that’s something really big for these guys, they look like professionals, everything is the same. The calendar is not the same, but it’s up to the guys to show to the pro team they are ready to step up.

They even have a washing machine!

PEZ: It’s a real apprenticeship to being a pro?
Yes and for me the results are not so important, the results will come, if you are riding good races, the results will come. Its more the attitude they have during the training and here at the training camp, at home, how you go to the races, how you race together, I want to have a team not a lot of individuals. My priority is to make a team, they have to race together as a team and the results will come and if they ride that way they will be ready to join the Pro’s.

PEZ: The team is a mix of Nationalities?
Yip, Swiss riders, American riders, one Belgian, one Italian, a Czech and an Australian.

Young US rider; Taylor T.J. Eisenhart.

PEZ: How many would you hope would move up to the Pro team next year?
They are all young guys, some are 18 years old, these guys have two or three years and some four before they would think of that. Maybe there are some who could be ready in 2014, but there is no pressure imposed on us by the sponsor to say we need to make three riders for the Pro team or anything. Our main goal is to work with the young guys and bring them to a higher level in the hopes that they will graduate to the ProTour level. Of course we hope to achieve some good results along the way. But more important than results is teaching them the best way to ride, how to train, and to nurture them through our system.

BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz echoed Rik Verbrugghe’s sentiments and that the planning to create a development team was several years in the making. “Now that we’re finally making it happen, we are excited about the possibilities it creates,” he said. “We will be helping young athletes start their career off right and growing and developing them in a system where their progress will be closely followed.”

Sean and Isaura Van Lancker are a bit cold.

Before going outside to see the Development team riders and hopefully some of the BMC WorldTour team riders head off for the day’s work; Sean grabbed a young Italian called Igniazio for a chat. He has a great set of cycling genes and with the family name of Moser, I don’t need to say more. Yes, he is the son of Francesco Moser.

Igniazio Moser; son of Francesco.

PEZ: What are you looking forward to the most this year?
Igniazio Moser:
I hope to become a better rider and help the team, it’s a great team with great staff, it’s just like a Pro team, so for us it’s a big opportunity.

PEZ: What is it like living like a Pro?
Yea it is, for sure. It’s a big difference from last year; I was in an amateur team

PEZ: How old are you?
I’m 20; I’ll be 21 this year. So I think I’m young enough to learn from the pro guys and the others on the team, so that’s my aim for the year, which is the same for all the riders.

PEZ: You have no pressure for results, but what races will you be aiming at?
I’m probably going to do the Giro, I’m an Italian guy, so for sure I hope to do something there and I’ll also do the Tour of Normandy at the beginning of the season, that could be a nice opportunity because we will be with a lot of the Pro guys. I’m looking forward to try to race with them.

PEZ: Would you want to be a Pro in two years?
Or maybe next year. If at the end of the year I am satisfied with the season, why not? But also two years here I think would be a good thing because this is a great environment to grow and to everything you want.

PEZ: Do they look after you well here then?
Yea always. We had a little wine at the table last night, well the sponsor produces wine also, so…

PEZ: But to come to a nice hotel like this and to have the trucks and the buses and the cars and everything, that must be nice?
Yes it’s just like being a Pro.

PEZ: You rode with Cadel Evans the other day?
Yes with Cadel, he is a great guy, when I meet him in the hotel here (in the lounge) or in the bar or at dinner, he is always very kind and he speaks Italian very well so I can always talk to him.

PEZ: As the only Italian on the team do you feel a bit left out or anything?
No, all the guys are very nice so there is no problem in that way.

PEZ: When you talk to Cadel do you ask him things?
Yea always, maybe too much, but he is very open and also the other guys; Taylor (Phinney) is very nice; he of course is very young like us. And then like Van Avertmaert he is very helpful.

Taylor Phinney is not much older than the Development riders.

PEZ: You and Taylor Phinney are about the same size, he can do a great time trial what about you?
You know the time trial is a bit different thing, you have to prepare specially and train a lot for that, you need to be made for that because it’s a different kind of effort. So maybe in the future, I don’t know.

PEZ: Do you see yourself as a Classicsman?
Yes with my weight I can’t win the Giro. I like the cobbles, well look at my family…my father, it’s a tradition so…Paris-Roubaix. I rode the Under 23 Roubaix last year and when I was a junior too. I wasn’t very lucky though, I crashed a couple of times when I was a junior and last year one time, I hope to be a bit more lucky, that race is my big aim, it’s my type of race.

PEZ: What about the Tour of Flanders, what about those climbs?
Yes I’m OK with the short climbs, and of course the finale of Milano-Sanremo, I’m Italian so its special for us, its special for everyone, but especially for us.

1978 Francesco Moser wins the first of three Paris-Roubaix.

Australian’s Tim Roe is the most experienced, having spent two seasons with the BMC Racing Team. “It will be good to have Tim as a road captain as he recovers from the back troubles that affected his performances the past two years,” said team manager Rik Verbrugghe said. One of the youngest on the team at 19 is Belgian Loic Vliegen, he did not hesitate when he was offered a spot on the team. “BMC is a big team with a good management; I hope to show good things next year, especially in races like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which is special for me as I come from the area.” Vliegen is so young he could have ridden as a junior in 2012, but rode for an Under 23 team.

Tim Roe, where have they gone?

Talent on the squad extends from the road to the track, where Bohli is the current junior world champion in the team pursuit – as well as the Swiss national junior road and time trial champion. Dillier won the Swiss Under 23 time trial title this year to go along with his Under 23 European championship in the 4,000-meter pursuit and the madison. Novak is the reigning Czech Republic Under 23 time trial champion while Küng earned the junior European championship in the madison in July. “All of this bodes well,” Verbrugghe said, “especially with the April opening of the Velodrome Suisse, a 250-meter track in Central Switzerland spearheaded by BMC Racing Team sponsor Andy Rihs.”

The young guys get ready for the cold.

The weather had changed a little, quite windy and a bit cold out of the sun shine, but the guys on the BMC development squad were still going out on a four hour ride, Cadel and his group had planned on a mix of normal and time trial bike training.

Cadel and Max Sciandri discuss the plan.

The young BMC Development team headed off for their ride, one problem, they went without Tim Roe, but then he was last. No problem as he could still go out with the others as due to the strong winds the time trial training only had three interested takers, those not wanting to take any chances with the weather were going for a long ride on the normal bikes.

The hidden front brakes of the new BMC takes a bit of getting used to.

I don’t usually bother much with technical stuff (despite the fact that I’m an ex-team mechanic), but the new hidden brake system on the road bikes was very clean with no visible cable or brake workings, still looks strange to old eyes.

The front of Cadel’s TT rig is quite tidy.

Also the stem and bar combo on the timemachine TM01 is particularly tidy, the very low position of Cadel Evans is quite impressive and very aero too.

TT training this morning.

There are a few new things on the team for 2013, apart from the bike developments there are no Bell helmets, they’re Giro now and Hincapie clothing has been replaced by Pearl Izumi. No change to Marco Pinotti, always happy and ready to chat. He wanted to know if Sean had read his book yet? As he was on his way home the next day, the ten hour journey to Omaha would be more than enough time. His book is available in English on Kindle.

A happy Marco Pinotti, as usual.

The new Giro helmet also looked strange, but like everything I guess I’ll get used to it. I was introduced to the team doctor, Scott Major, he has worked with the ProTour team and will be working with the Development team. Which did he prefer? “Both are good to work with, but the young guys ask a lot of questions which is good. The young riders are like unmolded clay which is easier to work with, it’s always interesting.”

Not sure about the new Giro helmet on Michael Schär.

Not the normal BMC team visit, but very interesting. The Development team is set-up to give these young riders the best start towards a Pro career; I guess it’s up to them now. Good luck!

BMC Development Team Roster:
Valentin Baillifard (SUI), Tom Bohli (SUI), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Taylor Eisenhart (USA), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Arnaud Grand (SUI), Stefan Küng (SUI), Paul Lynch (USA), Igniazio Moser (ITA), Jakub Novak (CZE), Tim Roe (AUS), Alexey Vermeulen (USA), Loic Vliegen (BEL), Tyler Williams (USA).

One of the young guys on his way out.

Directeur Sportif and Team Manager:
Rik Verbrugghe (BEL).

Assistant Director:
Jens Blatter (SUI).

Doctor: Scott Major (USA). Head Mechanic: Nick Mondelaers (BEL). Head Soigneur: Patrice Hemroulle (BEL). Trainer/Performance Advisor: Scott Nydam (USA).

Not at a bad day at the office.

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