What's Cool In Road Cycling

On The Road With BMC!

2017 BMC Media Day: It’s December, it’s Denia and it’s Spain, so it must be the BMC media day. Always a top day out, even when it’s raining, which it did for little while at the coast. Not to worry, the lunch prepared by the two BMC chefs was brilliant as always. But I’m getting ahead of myself, there was a bike ride and a presentation to get through first.

On arrival at La Sella golf-resort the first thing you see is the BMC trucks parked next to the main entrance. It was dry at 9:30, but that wasn’t to last. Usually the team do their group photo before the ride, but due the impending Hurricane Ana, they took all the photos in the sun on Sunday. So it was a more relaxed start to the day.

The bikes were lined up and ready for the off. Three groups were organized and the photographers would be following a group of riders from this year, so no non-BMC jerseys wearing riders in the photos. In the group of ten was World No.1, Greg Van Avermaet, Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis. A good mix of the top men. The team are all training on bikes fitted with disk brakes, good idea, but racing with them is a different case that is still to be decided.

First rider to appear at the trucks was Van Avermaet, the Olympic champion looked as keen as every year and is looking to repeat his successful 2017, but with one difference – a win in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. His 2018 season schedule will be much the same in ’18, except there will be no Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He also wants a crack at the Tour cobbled stages and even though the World’s course is for the climbers, he’s looking forward to it. Could Sagan make it four in a row? “Ha! He can do anything.”

Nico Roche was well wrapped up for the cold start, but was in a good mood and looking forward to his second season with BMC.

Team boss, Jim Ochowicz was there to see off the troops. He was pleased to have the new sponsor on board – Sophos.

The Swiss backed, US registered team is acquiring quite an Australian accent with young National champion Miles Scotson along with Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis with Simon Gerrans joining for 2018. Behind the scenes there is Allan Peiper (Sporting Manager), Cadel Evans (Global Ambassador) and press officer Phoebe Haymes, all from ‘Down Under’.

Tejay was riding with a different group, but was there to see what was going on. Unsure of his 2018 schedule, but the Tour de France was high on his options. Although he enjoyed riding the Giro d’Italia in 2017, he was a little disappointed. A stage win was not what he was looking for.

Richie, Fabio and Greg – All relaxed. Well, it is only December. Porte was looking forward to defending his Santos Tour Down Under win of this season after his long lay-off since his crash in the Tour de France. He is also please with the signing of Simon Gerrans and that Van Garderen would be riding the Tour.

Some riders were feeling the cold, Nico Roche was heading the same direction adding clothing. No idea who the other rider is?

Cold enough for gloves.

The signing of Alberto Bettiol from Cannondale-Drapac for 2018 could be a good move.

Help yourself to the old bottles, saves washing them.

It’s all there on the side of the car – Tour, World champion, Olympic champion, World TTT champions and Paris-Roubaix winners.

Another signing from Cannondale-Drapac; Patrick Bevin from New Zealand. After two seasons with the US squad Bevin is looking forward to giving his everything for BMC with an eye on the time trials. PEZclusive interview with Paddy up soon.

Another ‘New Boy’ at BMC is Simon Gerrans. Starting his 19th year as a professional with stage wins in every Grand Tour and San Remo and Liège, he’s hardly a novice, but was looking forward to a new start/change in his career. In his Orica kit he did point out the stupidness of the system, “The contracts should run from 1st of November or December.”

Time to go and I was lucky to be in a car with the very experienced DS Valerio Piva. Piva was a pro rider from 1982 to 1991 with Bianchi-Piaggio, Sammontana-Bianchi and Ariostea, and has been a DS with Mapei, T-Mobile, HTC-Columbia and Katusha before joining BMC in 2014. What he doesn’t know about cycle-sport isn’t worth knowing. Team mechanic was Aaron Fairley, originally from California, now living in Amsterdam after racing in Belgium.

The ride out was cold and the rain clouds were on the horizon, it would be a short ride to the resort town of Moraira for a coffee and some cake for the riders, nothing for photographers, and straight back in time for lunch, the jersey presentation and interviews. Some of the riders would be having tests in the afternoon.

The talk in the team car came round to disk brakes. All the riders have them fitted to their training bikes, but the question of using them in the Classics or on important races. Valerio pointed out: “It’s not easy to swap bikes with another rider when the team car is too far back and you can’t take a spare bike from the side of the road. With normal wheels you can swap with a teammate or take a neutral wheel.”

The ride was not breaking any speed records, but was meant to be a ‘recovery’ day. The ride back was not quite at the same leisurely pace.

Not all the bikes had disk brakes, but this one wasn’t going to see much action.

Coffee time, but the bikes needed moving from the front of the cafe to the side where they could be watched. There is no end to the talents of Rohan Dennis, he can ride two bikes at one time.

World No.1, Greg Van Avermaet didn’t mind being ‘Mother’ and being in-charge of the cake portion control. Nice cake, but that was as close as any non-rider got to it. I don’t think there has ever been so many photos taken of ten guys eating cake and drinking coffee before. Couldn’t wait too long as the promised rain had started to fall.

Alessandro De Marchi likes his BMC so much he had to take it to one side for a photo. One for the wallet?

Yes, it was time to go, lunch was calling. You need a TAG Heuer for the job.

I don’t think this lady had seen so much excitement before, although it didn’t help her collection any.

On the way back there was a slight climb, not steep by any means, but maybe they could smell the paella cooking in the hotel. The pace had certainly lifted from the morning. Richie Porte was loving it.

Van Avermaet was deep in conversation and probably hadn’t noticed the road had gone upwards.

Rohan Dennis on the other hand was not going to ruin a ‘recovery’ day and took the climb at his own pace: “I am doing a little less intensity. I am still putting it in but trying to build that base. A little bit more old school training at the moment,” said the Australian.

Well, what are team cars for?

Rohan admitted he had only held onto the car for my photographic benefit. It was a big help on a day that was less than perfect for any camera work.

The talk in the car turned to ‘well in my day’ and how even pro’s train in shorts when years ago you never saw a pro’s legs in the off season. But of course clothing fabrics have changes over the years. Lunch became the topic of the moment; the feeling from Valerio and Aaron was that the two Italian BMC chefs would be making pizza for the media. We all agreed that proper pizza made by an Italian would be more than welcome. Valerio has lived in Belgium for some time and admitted he only eats pizza in Italy as it’s not the same anywhere else. I had to agree, on the same basis I have 12 kilos of coffee sent from Palermo every four months and now can’t drink coffee anywhere except at home.

A big thanks to Valerio, but he was wrong about the pizza.

Aaron was back to the truck, bikes would need cleaned before tomorrow’s proper training ride.

Time for the new jersey presentation and to hear about the new sponsor on the collar – Sophos the internet security firm and also the team’s casual clothing from J. Lindeberg.

Blue collar and back of the shorts, it stands out, but maybe clash would be a better description?

Cadel Evans was hard at work as the team’s Global Ambassador.

That only left the BMC cake, and very nice it was too, a bit like tiramisu but without the alcohol. Although the wine on the table made up for it at 14·5%, a very nice red by Aureto from the Ventoux region, BMC’s Andy Rihs’ own vineyard.

# A big thanks to everyone at BMC Racing, especially Valerio, Aaron, Phoebe, Amy and Georges. #

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