BMC Racing Team Go All In on Queen Stage in Utah5. August 2017, Snowbird Resort, Utah (USA) — Road Team
BMC Racing Team animated the Tour of Utah queen stage by putting pressure on the General Classification contenders before a showdown on the final climb to Snowbird Resort saw Manuel Senni and Brent Bookwalter secure top ten finishes.
At just 99km long, the action began as soon as the flag dropped on stage 6, with a large group of twenty riders, including Tom Bohli, wasting no time and splitting off the front of the peloton inside the first 2km of the day.
The group’s advantage rose quickly and, after 20km of racing, it was nudging over 5’30” before the road began to rise for the first time on the category one climb to American Fox Canyon.
Silvan Dillier and Patrick Müller moved up to the front of the peloton and began to set a fierce pace which put pressure on the rest of the field and saw riders strung out in single file before only a select group was left in the main bunch.
After attacking earlier on the climb, Ruben Companioni (Holowesko/Citadel) found himself going solo over the summit with his early breakaway companions 1’10” back and the main bunch sitting 3’15” down.
BMC Racing Team continued to animate the race with Kilian Frankiny attacking away from what was left of the peloton over the top of the climb before a descending masterclass from Bookwalter saw him join forces with his teammate heading into the second half of the stage.
As the road levelled out, Companioni saw his advantage begin to fall with the first chasing group, which still included Bohli, making the catch with 35km to go, before Bohli dropped back to join Bookwalter and Frankiny and help the now seven-rider chasing group in a bid to distance themselves further from the yellow jersey.
A determined chase from the BMC Racing Team trio and Holowesko/Citadel saw the group pull the 11 remaining breakaway riders back inside 20km to go, and as they approached the early slopes of the final, hors categorie climb to Snowbird Resort, the yellow jersey group had a deficit of 45 seconds.
Despite a valiant attempt from BMC Racing Team and Bookwalter to distance the race leader, Rob Britton (Rally Cycling), the race was brought back together, and the battle of the General Classification contenders was reignited on the iconic ascent just 6.5km from the finish line.
Almost immediately, the race exploded once again with the yellow jersey this time going clear at the front of the race as part of a six-rider group which also included Manuel Senni. Meanwhile, Bookwalter, who had gone all in to try and take the overall lead earlier in the stage, continued to work hard to try and pull himself back into the group.
In the end, the stage win was contested between the riders in the front group with Giulio Ciccone going solo inside 4km to go as Senni launched a series of attacks behind the Bardiani CSF rider before he eventually crossed the line seventh.
Bookwalter continued to set his own rhythm and finished in tenth place on the day which was enough to maintain his top five position on the General Classification, 2’07” behind Britton heading into tomorrow’s final stage.
Joey Rosskopf was involved in a crash going over the top of the American Fox Canyon but was able to get back on the bike and finish the stage.
Quotes From the Finish Line
"It was a big team effort. It was really an all or nothing race for us today, and although that is always a bit of a gamble, we wanted to go for it if we found ourselves in that situation. It was exciting to race that way. We don't always get to race like that especially in the UCI WorldTour when there are points on the line so, it was a nice change of pace to just lay everything out on the road, rip it up and see where I ended up. I think we came pretty close, and for a while, we were in a really good situation, but we had a couple of unfortunate moments with Joey Rosskopf's crash and some issues with getting time gaps as the race was blowing apart. We were in the situation today where every second counted and any moment of hesitation was a second that we would have to work harder to get back."
"We really tried to keep the pressure on and put the hammer down, and I am really thankful for the work the guys did today, and I am really proud of what we threw at the race. Despite this not being the biggest race on our team's calendar, a lot of the other teams have been looking to us to take responsibility so we really had to just focus on our own plan and stick to that to the best of our ability and today we did that. It didn't work out in the end, but I think everyone enjoyed racing their bikes today and laying it all out on the line. It's nice to be reminded of those moments when you put your head down and just go for it. It's why a lot of us started racing."
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
"We wanted to race to win, and that's exactly what we tried to do today. We definitely raced aggressively, and we made the race exciting. Tom Bohli went over the top of the first climb with the breakaway which was something we had spoken about trying to set up in the team meeting. The guys behind then started to make the race really hard. That wasn't really our plan, but we realized that they were letting the gap go out too far. After that first climb, Bohli then dropped back, and the guys drilled it before they came into the final climb with a little bit of time, but unfortunately, it just wasn't enough, and some other teams were working for Rally Cycling that we maybe didn't expect to."
"We also had a bit of bad luck today with Joey Rosskopf's crash, Bohli had a problem with his radio at one point and then at the last minute we had a flat with Kilian Frankiny so, our timing wasn't the best today."
"In the end, it was so chaotic, with riders and vehicles everywhere, and mixed with a little bit of bad luck on our side we didn't get the pay off we were looking for. We tried everything though, and we did a good job in that sense. We definitely had the team to do the job today, but this stage was a little different this year. It was really short, and I think if there had been another climb in there, it could have been a completely different outcome. With the long flat stretch in between which luckily had a bit of a cross-tail wind that helped the breakaway, it was a really a case of how strong the chase was behind."
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah
Stage 6: Heber Valley > Snowbird Resort, 99km
Top 3: 1. Giullio Ciccone (Bardiani - CSF) 2. Simone Sterbini (Bardiani - CSF) 3. Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 7. Manuel Senni 10. Brent Bookwalter 19. Martin Elmiger
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.