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Living up to their status as world champions, BMC beat Astana and Movistar in a very close team time trial at the Criterium du Dauphiné; Dennis takes the yellow jersey for the second time in three years

Photo: Sirotti

ASTANA - PREMIER TECH

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CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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ROHAN DENNIS

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09.06.2015 @ 15:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

BMC lived up to their status as world champions and pre-race favourites when they won the team time trial at the Criterium du Dauphiné. In a very close battle, they beat Astana by four seconds and Movistar by five seconds to take the stage victory and put Rohan Dennis (BMC) into the overall lead.

 

Less than a year ago, BMC surprised most pundits when they won the World Team Time Trial Championships with an impressive ride on the hilly roads around Ponferrada. In the first team time trials of the 2015 season, they have done nothing to confirm their status but in those races they have not had their strongest teams.

 

Today they had finally gathered most of their specialists when they tackled the stage 3 team time trial at the Criterium du Dauphiné. With four of their world champions Rohan Dennis, Tejay van Garderen, Manuel Quinziato and Daniel Oss all on the roster, the team were the obvious pre-race favourites on the hilly course in the Alps that was the scene of the big dress rehearsal for stage 9 of the Tour de Franc.

 

The Americans fully lived up to expectations in the hilly terrain as they turned out to be the fastest on the 24.5km course. Being an early starter, they were the only ones to go below the 30-minute mark and that proved to be enough to win the stage.

 

BMC were the third team down the ramp and when they crossed the line, they had gone 1.18 faster than previous leaders Giant-Alpecin. They now faced a long wait in the hot seat as their biggest rivals were all still to finish.

 

As many had expected, Astana proved to be their biggest rivals as they Kazakh team finished second, just 4 seconds off the mark. At the time check, they had lost exactly the same amount of time but they were unable to take it back in the second half and had to settle for second.

 

Movistar have always been among the best team time trial squads and they got Alejandro Valverde’s GC campaign off to the perfect start as they took third. With a great final half, they reduced their deficit of 18 seconds at the time check to just 5 seconds at the finish to put Valverde within striking distance of the overall lead when the race hit the mountains on Thursday. Former world champion Etixx-QuickStep had to settle for fourth with a team that was not their best for this discipline while Orica-GreenEDGE did surprisingly well with a team without any specialists to take fifth.

 

Pre-race favourite Chris Froome was visibly disappointed at the end of the stage as his Sky team could only managed 6th and the Brit lost 35 seconds to key rival Tejay van Garderen in the first big test at the race. Furthermore, his teammate Peter Kennaugh was unable to defend the lead and slipped out of the top 10.

 

Among the overall contenders, Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Robert Kiserlovski (Tinkoff-Saxo), Bauke Mollema (Trek), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) were the biggest losers as they all lost more than a minute. As opposed to this, Mathias Frank (IAM), Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) and Daniel Martin (Cannondale) can all be reasonable satisfied with their riders.

 

Dennis, van Garderen, Oss, Dylan Teuns and Joey Rosskopf were the riders for BMC that reached the finish together and as Quinziato and Michael Schär had both been dropped, Dennis takes the overall lead on a countback. He is equal on time as he heads into stage 4 where he will wear yellow for the second time in his career. The mammoth 228km stage is a mostly flat affair that is expected to suit the sprinters but with a category 3 climb in the finale, attackers may surprise the fast finishers.

 

A hilly course

After two days of survival, the GC riders were ready to kick into action in stage 3 which was the 24.5km team time trial. The course brought the riders from Roanne to Montagny and was a lumpy, hilly affair with two small climbs and a few technical challenges to test the cohesiveness of the teams.

 

The riders had great weather when FDJ rolled down the start ramp as the first team. The Frenchmen were never expected to shine in this discipline and their time of 31.34 didn’t allow them to spend much time in the hot seat.

 

BMC take the lead

Giant-Alpecin were the second team to start and they did slightly better with a time of 31.16. However, everybody was already waiting for BMC who had been almost a minute faster at the time check and the maintained their speed to stop the clock in 29.58.

 

Trek had a poor ride with a time of 31.29 that was only good enough for second and instead Astana were expected to pose the first threat for BMC. Lieuwe Westra, Michale Scarponi, Vincenzo Nibali, Rein Taaramae and Andriy Grivko reached the finish in 30.02 to miss out on the lead by just 4 seconds.

 

Movistar get close

Movistar had been 18 seconds off the pace at the intermediate time check but the team had gauged their efforts extremely well. Benat Intxausti, Gorka Izagirre, Valverde, Johan Gadret and Jose Herrada stopped the clock in 30.03 to narrowly miss out on the lead and slot into third.

 

Europcar did a surprisingly good time trial to take fourth with 31.06 but everybody was already waiting for Etixx-QuickStep to finish their rider. However, the power of Tony Martin was not enough to win the stage and they had to settle for fourth with 30.16.

 

Bad day for Rodriguez

Cofidis were far off the pace and posted a time of 31.47 that would ultimately be the slowest of the day. Rodriguez and Katusha didn’t do much better with their time of 31.03 which was only good enough for fifth at the time.

 

LottoNL-Jumbo had a great ride to slot into fifth with a time of 30.52 while Lotto Soudal did surprisingly well to only lose 59 seconds to BMC. The Belgians had even been fourth at the time check but as they lost a bit of ground in the finale, they were only sixth at the finish.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE in the top 5

Orica-GreenEDGE didn’t have any specialists in their team and so they did surprisingly well by stopping the clock in 30.21 to take fifth. MTN-Qhubeka did a good second half to come back from a 12th place finish at the time check to slot into 9th at the finish.

 

Ag2r were hopeful to limit the losses of Bardet and Peraud and they did one of their best time trials to slot into 8th, losing exactly a minute to BMC. Moments later Lampre-Merida did an excellent team time trial as they were 13 seconds faster in sixth.

 

Disappointment for Sky

IAM got Mathias Frank’s GC campaign off to a solid start as they were just 3 seconds slower in 7th. Things were much worse for Tinkoff-Saxo as only Cofidis and FDJ were slower than the Russian team in this test.

 

Bora-Argon 18 were keen to prove their status as specialists in this discipline but at the higher level they were unable to repeat their performance from the Giro del Trentino. The German team posted the 9th best time.

 

Cannondale-Garmin kept defending champion Andrew Talansky within striking distance when they stopped the clock in 30.41 to slot into sixth and now it was only the Sky team that still had to finish the stage. Despite Froome’s massive turns, the Brits were off the pace after they had lost two riders very early. In the end, they could only manage sixth with a time loss of 35 seconds for the 2013 champion.

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