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MARSEILLE, France (VN) — After the team time trial saw Tour de France heavy-hitter BMC Racing bleed 23 seconds to Sky and leader Chris Froome, the squad finds itself with some digging out to do as the 100th Tour barrels toward the Pyrenees.
“We expected to do better than that. We weren’t pleased with our performance. We wanted to stay within a closer range. We needed to go 15 seconds faster to do that,” said BMC president Jim Ochowicz before stage 5,which was ultimately won by Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). “It’s still early in the race. You can’t use it as a real indicator as the outcome of the race two and a half weeks from now. But every second counts.”
Indeed, every second does count, especially when competing with Sky when the road tilts upward. Its captain, Chris Froome, is one of the best climbers — and one of the best time trialists — in the peloton here in France. His second in command, Richie Porte, is capable of riding high on GC as well, depending on how things shake out for Froome in the Pyrenees or, later, the Alps.
“We really should have been there,” Cadel Evans said Wednesday. “I think that’s our level … I’m really disappointed [but] that’s the way it goes.
Evans now finds himself 23 seconds down on Froome, who’s proven to be superior to all comers in the Tour’s tuneups. Tejay van Garderen, BMC’s second in command, is in the same boat.
“I lost 23 seconds to the favorite here, Froome. So of course I’m not happy with that. We’ve still got more than two-thirds of the race to go, with mountains and the individual time trials. Of course, I’ve got to make time somewhere.”
Sky’s Richie Porte said his team now finds itself in the perfect position.
“Obviously it’s not a race just between us and BMC, but you still take it when you can get it. It went really well for us,” Porte told VeloNews on Wednesday. “I think we’re in a perfect position, aren’t we? We’re three seconds off the jersey, and it’s good to see GreenEdge, being an Aussie I guess, it’s good to see them in the jersey.”
Sky was the big GC winner in the team time trial — Orica-GreenEdge won the day — and the Evans and van Garderen-led squad probably suffered the most realistic GC harm, though Astana lost nearly a minute. Alberto Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff team fared well, dropping only six seconds to Froome and Co.
This year’s race is of course different than last year’s but Sky’s strength is a constant, at least thus far. Ochowicz said the race hadn’t provided any decisive moments yet, so he couldn’t comment on the whole of the Sky team.
“The race hasn’t really gotten to the point where anybody’s been tested yet, team wise. So I can’t give you an exact answer of where Sky is in regard to last year, because we haven’t hit any hills yet,” Ochowicz said.
Evans, meanwhile, was succinct. “These negatives — we’ve got to learn from them and move on.”
They’ll get the chance to do just that, as the Tour rolls on again Thursday, from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier.