BMC suffered a major blow to their overall aspirations at the Tour de France on the brutal ninth stage with Riche Porte crashing out and Tejay van Garderen losing close to 6 minutes by the finish line. Even though current race leader Greg van Avermaet increased his overall classification lead and finished second on the stage, the Belgian was downbeat about his close-call with the stage win and losing the team leader in his post-race interview.
“The closer we came to the finish, the more I started to believe it. It’s a big disappointment for me, but it’s how it is sometimes. Maybe I should have started my sprint a little earlier.
“Maybe he [DegenKolb] was stronger than me. I had the feeling maybe the race was not long enough for me to really get tired. It is a big disappointment for me, I was really aiming for yellow and the win. I wanted to do this and it didn’t happen.”
However, the day wasn’t all bad for van Avermaet, as he is set to head into the first rest day with possession of the yellow leader’s jersey.
“Overall, I kept the jersey and made something out of it. I’m happy for my first week. A whole week in yellow is something special.”
Disaster struck BMC when their designated leader, Porte, crashed early in the stage and was forced to abandon. Van Avermaet said after hearing the news, he attempted to make the best out of a bad situation.
“We lost Richie after 10km. It was a big disappointment for the team because we were here to bring him to Paris. It was not a great start and we tried to make the best out of it and tried to put Tejay in the front, but the GC guys always seem to struggle on the cobbles.
“After that, I tried to make my own race and make the team happy and that’s what I did.”
The former Paris-Roubaix champion highlighted the difficulty of salvaging a Tour after losing their leader.
“For us it will be hard like last year … it is a real shame to lose Richie. He was going on really good form. We really believed in him for this Tour. Cycling can be like that sometimes.
Van Avermaet also underlined how devastating it was for Porte to crash out for a second consecutive year.
“We lost Richie after 10km. Two years in a row is a big difference. You can lose one year your GC goal, but now two years at 32 is not the best for him.
“The good thing is the crash is not as bad. He will recover faster and get back on his bike and maybe do the Vuelta.”
When Porte left the race early in the day, team leadership momentarily fell to van Garderen, but the American began to struggle as soon as the race hit the cobblestones. He suffered a crash and multiple flat tires that prevented him from getting into a rhythm. He admitted to being relegated to simply counting down the kilometers by the end of the stage.
“We have to keep moving forward. It’s the Tour de France. It doesn’t take long to switch your mindset. If you get three punctures and you crash when you’re coming back in the last position, it definitely doesn’t make it easy. You just count the kilometers down.”
Even with the spate of bad luck, van Avermaet is hoping the team can score a result, and possibly even defend his jersey when the race enters the mountains next week.
“Now we have some other riders and maybe we can do something in the mountains. Maybe now I will have more freedom, and let’s see if I can maybe even defend my jersey on Tuesday.”