Brent Bookwalter Interview: BMC Racing domestique pushing through second Tour de France
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brent Bookwalter Interview: BMC Racing domestique pushing through second Tour de France

by Kyle Moore at 9:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France
 
"Everyone is tired, fatigued, and nursing their own issues"

Brent BookwalterBrent Bookwalter, the 27-year-old American riding his second Tour de France for team BMC Racing, has so far survived the “chaotic and stressful” race, and he will continue to shelter team leader Cadel Evans, who is targeting the overall win for the American squad.

Bookwalter had his coming out party at the 2010 Giro d’Italia.  He set the fastest early time in the stage 1 time trial, and would only be bested by Team Sky specialist Bradley Wiggins.  This put Bookwalter into the points jersey and second place overall.

He proved to be a solid domestique for Evans on the early flat stages of the Giro.  He impressed team management enough to earn his first start in the Tour de France last year, which meant he would make his debut in both three-week races in the same season.

In 2011, BMC sent Bookwalter to the Tour of California instead of the Italian Grand Tour, and he finished 15th overall in support of team-mate Steve Morabito.  He went to the United States nationals and pulled off top ten finishes in the road race and time trial.  BMC counted on Bookwalter to be a big engine in the Tour de France team time trial, and he didn't disappoint, helping them to a surprise second place in the stage.  Coming up on the conclusion of the Tour, he elaborated on his experience thus far.

“Having only done two Grand Tours prior to this one, they are hard to compare,” Bookwalter told VeloNation after stage 16.  “They are all unique and provide more than there fair share of challenging situations.”

One of those situations for Bookwalter was the crash on stage 9 that took out Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Alexander Vinokourov.  He went down hard along with several others.  “It was really frightening and I’m very fortunate and blessed to have gotten through it with relatively little damage," he admitted.  "The race alone is brutal, day in and day out.  Combine that with a trip to the pavement and it’s no wonder I feel a little busted up,” he said.

“This year has been really chaotic and stressful, non-stop.  The crashes and mayhem the first nine days were really out of hand.  Our team was fortunate enough to escape in solid shape, but it’s still disappointing that there was so much carnage.”

With BMC Racing’s Australian team leader Evans still positioned well overall on the general classification, Bookwalter talked about the daily role of the team BMC worker.  “Our assignments vary day by day, but the priority is always protecting Cadel and doing what is best for his GC chances,” he explained.  “We aren’t chasing stage wins, jerseys, or TV time in breakaways.  Everything is for the GC, so we do whatever it takes to make that happen, kilometer by kilometer and stage by stage.”

Though still relatively new in the European peloton, Bookwalter provides a thoughtful perspective on life in the professional peloton.  “As cyclists, our minds have a way of blocking out the suffering and misery we have endured in the past, so it seems like each year you do a race it is so hard!  There is no way to simulate the outputs and stress experienced during the Tour,” he concluded.

“At this point, just about everyone is tired, fatigued, and nursing their own issues.  But you are dealing with some of the most strong-willed individuals imaginable, so nobody gives up and nobody backs down until we reach Paris.  That is hard on the mind!”

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