Can BMC do a Cervélo?
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Can BMC do a Cervélo?

by Ben Atkins at 6:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Opinion

Founded in 2007, the BMC Racing Team has been steadily growing, but the signing of Cadel Evans this week could catapult the small US/Swiss outfit into the big time. Parallels can be drawn between BMC and another ambitious Professional Continental team, also sponsored by a bike manufacturer: the Cervélo TestTeam.

Cervélo began to take shape towards the end of 2008. There were some within the sport that questioned whether the team would happen at all, but the singing of Tour champion Carlos Sastre (who’d ridden a Cervélo at CSC-Saxo Bank in that victory), former green jersey winner Thor Hushovd, classics winners and contenders Xavier Florencio, Roger Hammond and Andreas Klier and ambitious rouleurs Heinrich Haussler and Simon Gerrans showed that the team meant business.

Only the decision to not bother with an application for ProTour status could be seen as a calculated risk, possibly leaving them without invitations to many of the big races.

As it transpired, Cervélo was one of the teams of 2009. Despite Sastre’s less than stellar 17th place at the Tour de France, Thor Hushovd delivered another green jersey and his and Haussler’s stage wins made Cervélo’s race a lot more popular than many other teams. Gerrans chipped in with stage victories at both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, as well as the GP Ouest-France.

The team ended 2009 as the 8th best team, beating a number of ProTour teams with far greater budgets. The question is: can BMC Racing perform a similar feat in 2010?

Certainly the team possesses a lot of the necessary firepower to perform at a variety of races. US veteran George Hincapie, Karsten Kroon, Marcus Burghardt and outgoing World champion Alessandro Ballan have to potential to mount a serious classics campaign, and Cadel Evans – twice second at the Tour de France – shows a new ambition to not only get invited to the Grand Tours but the intention to try and win one.

The big issue here though could be the matter of invitations.

Any team’s number one target for the year is the Tour de France, and competition for places is fierce. There are 18 ProTour places, each one with a legitimate shout – and they might even say right – to an invite; added to this are French teams Cofidis and Bbox Bouyges Telecom, all but guaranteed a place by their nationality. After these teams there are not many places for the lesser teams to fight over.

BMC Racing could well find itself in direct competition for a place on the start ramp in Rotterdam with the very team it aspires to emulate: Cervélo. With only 20 places on offer, the Tour organisers could find themselves with the uneasy choice between a team with a two-time runner-up and World champion, and a team with a two-time green jersey and a former winner.

A tough choice indeed.


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