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BMC troops content with early-season rides

The team promises bigger results to come when it really counts.

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Team BMC might be cycling’s newest super team, but the squad has had a low-profile start to the 2012 season. The team nonetheless promises bigger results to come when it really counts.

While some teams such as Omega Pharma-Quick Step have come out guns blazing, racking up nearly a dozen early-season wins, BMC is using the opening races of the 2012 season to warm up the engines for the most important goals that come deeper into the calendar.

So far, the squad has notched two second places but no wins. The team said from the outset that quality over quantity is what’s important in 2012 for the squad of defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans and classics superstars Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd.

Gilbert rode to 15th overall at 41 seconds back in this weekend’s Tour du Haut Var. The world No. 1 made his season debut in the Tour of Qatar and opened his European season at the two-day race in the steep hills of southern France. Sunday’s climbing route would have been ideal for an on-form Gilbert, but Belgian says he was content with his ride, won by British climber Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing), who also secured the overall.

“Today was a really tough day but I felt better than yesterday,” Gilbert said on BMC’s web site. “My condition keeps growing and I am following my plan to get ready for my first goal of the season, Milan-San Remo.”

Gilbert said he doesn’t want to hit peak form until the northern classics, where he is taking aim at the Tour of Flanders and the Ardennes week as his first major goals for the season. Even for Milan-San Remo, Gilbert will still be a few watts off his top form, but says that he believes he can win the Italian classic when his form is below his absolute best condition.

In Portugal, meanwhile, Tejay van Garderen posted a solid fourth-place ride in the 25.8km time trial, just 14 seconds off the winning time set by Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and world time trial champion Tony Martin (who tied in time). Van Garderen was second overall last year at the five-day Algarve race and takes confidence in his seventh-place showing this year going into what will be his first major goal at Paris-Nice in early March. The 23-year-old American wants to make a run for the podium at the “Race to the Sun.”

“I had good sensations but definitely don’t think it was a perfect performance,” van Garderen said on the BMC site. “But to be close to guys like Wiggins and Tony Martin (second, in the same time as Wiggins) shows that I’m on a good level. … I had a bit of a hunger flat that day,” he said of Wednesday’s uphill climbing finish. “It was a mistake but sometimes your body responds differently to things in the first race of the year. I’ll be sure not to do that at Paris-Nice.”