Tejay van Garderen, Daniel Oss and their BMC teammates and staff all swapped hugs and celebrated together in the podium area of Tirreno-Adriatico after it was confirmed they had won the opening team time trial stage.
The American team has emerged as the dominant force in the team time trial in recent years, winning the world title in 2014 and 2015 and the team time trial stage at the 2015 Tour de France. After detailed preparation by time trial coach Marco Pinotti, the BMC riders put in a near perfect ride, with Daniel Oss, Tejay van Garderen, Taylor Phinney, Greg Van Avermaet, and Manuel Quinziato all finishing together. Damiano Caruso, Alessandro De Marchi and Jean Pierre Drucker finished a little off the pace after sitting up following their contribution to the effort earlier in the 22km.
Oss crossed the line first and so pulled on the race leader’s blue jersey. It was a moment of payback for the Italian’s hard work as a core domestique in the team. Van Garderen finished in the same time, and so BMC’s victory allowed him to gain some significant time on his overall rivals.
Thibaut Pinot surprisingly lost the least amount of time – nine seconds, after his FDJ team finished third behind BMC and Etixx-QuickStep. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) lost 15 seconds to van Garderen, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) lost 17 seconds, Michal Kwiatkowski and Wout Poels (Team Sky) lost 21 seconds, Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) lost 25 seconds and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lost 29 seconds. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) lost an even more significant 59 seconds, while Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) lost 2:03 and any chance of overall success after he and three teammates touched wheels and crashed at speed on a straight section of road.
With time bonuses of 10, six and four awarded on the road stages, the battle for overall victory is far from over but BMC and van Garderen were happy to be in front.
“We won the stage and took a chunk of time on our rivals. It’s always good to start on the front foot rather than on the back,” van Garderen told the journalists at the race after the BMC riders enjoyed spraying each other with Italian spumante.
“You never want to give away time, you take what ever you can. A one-week race usually comes down to seconds, so that’s what we wanted.
“We took significant time. Once we get to the summit finish, the other days and the last time trial, some of those deficits might be a factor. I wouldn’t say we’re safe with this time advantage but it’s a good way to start. You’ve got to be good at everything. You don’t win a race with just one weapon. You’ve got to climb, you’ve got time trial, and you’ve got be attentive in the sprints and tricky stages. You can’t be behind gaps.”
Van Garderen praised his teammates for helping gain time on his rivals and was happy for Oss to enjoy a day in the leader’s blue jersey.
“We’re performers and so when we go out on stage and we have a chance to do it as a team and it’s our speciality, then we get anxious to show ourselves, rather than get nervous,” he explained.
“Taylor [Phinney] is one of the best in the business in these events. He’s really coming back into his own and he put in a stellar performance today. That’s exciting to see. Everyone was so strong. I’m so happy for Daniel to be able to wear the leader’s jersey in his home country. It’s a huge honour for him. We rode it perfectly, it was a great performance.”
Oss enjoys a day in the spotlight
Daniel Oss is known for the rock-and-roll twist he gives to his racing, wearing his hair long and posing for selfies with a show of Horn Hands.
However he is also hard working domestique, who’s dedication and teamwork is rarely seen on television. Crossing the line first in Lido di Camaiore meant he finally got his day in the spotlight yet he refused to take all the glory.
“There’s a personal satisfaction that I’m wearing the jersey but I’m only the face of the team today,” Oss insisted modestly.
“We didn’t decide on who would cross the line first because we focus more on our ride than who finishes first. I crossed the line first this time but I represented the whole team.
“This is just a first step and a good start. We wanted to win the stage and gain time for Tejay for the GC. We did it. There was a bit of tension in the team before the race but it was positive energy to do our best.”
Oss also represents BMC’s investment in team time trialing. He was part of both teams that won the world titles in 2014 and 2015 and came up with the idea of creating a winner’s ring to celebrate with his teammates.
“Investing in time trialing and team time trialing is fundamental,” he argued. “There are now world titles up for grabs and that’s really important for any team. Plus time trials are also important for Grand Tours. Nobody can fight for victory and even go close if you don’t invest in time trialing, it’s vital.”
Despite being the centre of attention after the stage, Oss’ thoughts turned to Adriano Malori, who was the first race leader last year after winning the opening individual time trial.
“I want to dedicate a part of this one to him because he’s still recovering from his crash,” he said, sparking an appreciative round of applause in the press conference room post stage.
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