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PONFERRADA, Spain (VN) — BMC Racing Team, led by American star Tejay van Garderen, dethroned reigning champions Omega-Pharma Quick-Step to win the men’s team time trial on Sunday at the UCI World Road Championships.
Although finishing with just four of the original six-man team — the minimum requirement — the American squad got stronger as the race went on to win in a time of 1 hour, three minutes and 29.85 seconds.
That was 35 seconds quicker than Australia’s Orica GreenEdge, which, like several other teams who started later, was impeded by rain on the run in.
BMC finished before the rains started to fall. And although they were neck and neck with their main rivals throughout, the difference was made in the final 10km of the 57.1km course.
“It feels incredible,” said van Garderen, who raced alongside teammates Rohan Dennis, Silvan Dillier, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato and Peter Velits. “We were confident but we were nervous coming into this.
“We’re world champions. What more can you say? We knew coming in that we had a strong team, and it was just a matter of everything falling into place.
“It was a dynamic course and you had to be strong on all fronts to win this.”
Van Garderen insisted BMC Racing’s victory shouldn’t be seen as a surprise.
“It wasn’t a surprise. We came in knowing it was going to be hard. We had respect to the others’ teams, but we knew we had a chance,” he said. “At Valkenburg in 2012, BMC was only 3sec off the win, so to be that close, there’s no reason we could be up there again.”
Omega Pharma, led home by reigning three-time individual time trial champion Tony Martin, and with a star-studded team including former road race world champion Tom Boonen and Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra, could manage only third, just over three seconds behind Orica.
They had won the last two editions of the team time trial competition, beating BMC into second in 2012 and Orica last year.
“The rain wasn’t nice, but that’s not the only reason why we were losing time,” said Martin. “We cannot blame the rain on the loss today. We have to analyze what happened.”
Svein Tuft of Canada said Orica tried its best, but found the going “a bit tougher out there than what we thought pre-riding the course.”
“The last 10km was a boxing match,” he said. “It was really hard coming home, and we really suffered out there. Being second again is not our favorite thing, but we gave it everything we had.”
Team Sky, led by British Olympic time trial champion Bradley Wiggins, missed out on a medal by just two seconds. Like Orica and Omega, Sky finished in the rain but they paid more for weak links.
By the halfway mark Sky had already lost two of their six riders, with Geraint Thomas and Salvatore Puccio dropping off, while Dario Cataldo was missing turns at the front, effectively reducing them to three riders while all their rivals were still at full strength.