Paris-Nice: BMC chases frantically to preserve van Garderen’s spot
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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Paris-Nice: BMC chases frantically to preserve van Garderen’s spot

by Kyle Moore at 11:29 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
 
Blanco on the wrong end of peloton splits after rainy stage three

Tejay van GarderenInclement weather and rolling roads struck the peloton in Paris-Nice for the first time on Wednesday, with a group of 31 riders eventually pulling a minute ahead of the rest of the peloton. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) took the stage three victory, and the yellow jersey along with it, out of a group of seven that finished seven seconds ahead of the 24 riders who were sprinting behind them.

The Talansky group had gotten away over the top of the Côte de Mauvagnat, thanks to the aggression of Andriy Grivko (Astana) and Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale). Containing Talansky and fellow general classification threat Richie Porte (Sky Procycling), the group of seven posed a significant danger to the GC men stuck in groups behind, one of whom was Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).

On the descent of the Côte de Mauvagnat, the septet with Porte and Talansky had pulled out at least 20 seconds, putting van Garderen’s BMC squad into scramble mode. Unfortunately for the American, his group only contained one BMC team-mate, but van Garderen’s good fortune was the fact that his lone helper was world champion Philippe Gilbert.

Gilbert and van Garderen put together a hectic chase of the Talansky group in the final ten kilometres, getting some help from Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, but doing most of the work on their own. While Talansky and Porte had initially opened a larger gap on their chasers, van Garderen and Gilbert had their gap down to seven seconds on the finish line, ultimately a respectable margin.

“Sylvain Chavanel let the gap open up and since it was wet and narrow, nobody could really come around," van Garderen explained about how their disadvantage came about. “On the flats, we were trying to pull it back, but we just couldn't get organized. Some people were too tired to pull through. We were going, but just couldn't close the gap.”

The rainbow jersey stated that he had struggled to get over the category-2 Mauvagnat climb with the leaders, and then to have to chase after that had Gilbert in the red. “I gave everything to get to the top with the best group and then I saw the gap and started to move up, but it was hard with all the corners,” Gilbert added. “Right after the descent I tried to recover a bit and then tried to pull, but it was not easy.”

With the seven-second loss to Talansky on Wednesday, van Garderen sits in 15th overall, 16 seconds behind his compatriot. Van Garderen is also now the second best young rider, behind Talansky, and he will wear white on Thursday while Talansky sports yellow.

Unfortunately for the co-leaders of Blanco Pro Cycling, no such chase could be mounted. Of the 30 riders to finish within sight of stage three winner Talansky, not one was from the Blanco squad. Wilco Kelderman led Robert Gesink home a full one minute, five seconds after the stage winner had crossed, putting a large dent in the general classification hopes of the Dutch team.

Blanco had entered the day in a solid position, thanks to good prologue rides on Sunday and attentive riding since then. After stage two, Kelderman was in sixth place overall, and Gesink was well within striking distance in 18th place.

Now Kelderman is the first man appearing after a big split in the overall standings. Dani Navarro (Cofidis) is 28th, at 26 seconds behind Talansky. But Kelderman’s new position of 29th is 1’05” behind the yellow jersey, and Gesink sits a further three seconds back in 32nd.

Many overall favourites were more attentive than the Blanco pair on stage three, including the Omega Pharma-Quick Step duo of Sylvain Chavanel and Peter Velits, Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Bart de Clercq (Lotto-Belisol), Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff), van Garderen, and Thomas Lövkvist (IAM). All are still within 20 seconds of Talansky.

“It did not go according to plan today,” said Blanco manager Jan Boven. “Actually, there wasn’t all that much wrong. It was cold and rainy and there was a four-man break, but on the last climb, Kelderman and Gesink were just a bit too far off the pace. As the peloton dissolved on the descent, they were left behind. In the end, they lost about a minute.

“Knowing how hard we’ve had to fight for even ten seconds, it’s a very costly minute. But that’s water under the bridge. The general classification is going to be difficult but we’re simply going to revise our plans.”

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