Who are the sponsor? BMC, which stands for Bicycle Making Company (seriously) are a Swiss, er bicycle making company that manufacture road and mountain bikes.
Nationality: They’re registered as an American team, but the new kit is clearly focused on emphasizing the companies Swiss roots.
2012 Ranking: 7th
Past Stars: George Hincapie
Selected Team Palmares: 1st, 2011 Tour de France (Cadel Evans), Stage, Tour de France (2011, Cadel Evans), Stages, Giro d’Italia (2010, Cadel Evans, 2012, Taylor Phinney and Marco Pinotti), Stages, Vuelta a Espana (2012, Philippe Gilbert x2, Steven Cummings), 1st, 2011 Tour de Romandie (Cadel Evans), 1st, 2011 Tirreno Adriatico (Cadel Evans), 1st, 2011 Paris-Tours (Greg Van Avermaet)
Brief Team History: Founded in 2007, they started as an American development team, before buying a number of stars in 2010 including the newly crowned world champion Cadel Evans as well as past champion Alessandro Ballan. They held the pink and yellow jerseys with Evans, which led to them becoming a ProTeam in 2011, where they helped Evans finally win the Tour de France.
Last year: Last year, BMC had huge expectations, not only because of the need to defend the Tour title, but also with new signings Thor Hushovd and world number one Philippe Gilbert, the latter of which had ravaged the Ardenne classics the previous year as well as most of the other races he entered. Unfortunately, Hushovd was below par and injured most of the year, leaving Ballan to salvage spring with a couple of podiums, then Gilbert was clearly below his best in the hilly classics. They essentially didn’t bother at the Giro bar the first and last stages, which they won, and the Tour was dominated by Sky, as Evans eventually slipped behind his young team mate, Tejay Van Garderen, who placed 5th and caught his leader for three minutes in the final time trial. Van Garderen took the white jersey for his efforts, ensuring BMC did still get on the podium in Paris. By the Vuelta, Gilbert was up and running again, winning two stages as Steve Cummings came into some form as well before Gilbert romped away on the Cauberg to take the Worlds. At the Olympics, Taylor Phinney came 4th in both road events, before summing up a season of near misses for BMC and himself at the Worlds with second in both the TT and the TTT by a matter of seconds combined. Oddly, all the riders who didn’t meet their very high expectations all claimed to have been suffering from a virus.
Transfer dealings: This must be the first year in recent memory where BMC haven’t bought a past world champion, which is impressive, given they have four of the six past or present road champions who are still competing (the other two, for fans on inane trivia, are both on OPQS – Cavendish and Boonen). Usually aggressive, there is no typical marquee BMC signing this year, with only Daniel Oss the real powerhouse addition, and even he is still a young developing rider. They’ve lost Hincapie, Santambrogio and Tschopp, all strong mountain domestiques, so they’re arguably at a loss in the market, although they’ll be hoping instead for their young riders to progress to help Van Garderen and Evans at the Tour.
Who are the star riders? So many of BMC’s riders could lead a team in their own right, it’s ridiculous. For the General Classifications, they have Cadel Evans and Tejay Van Garderen. Their classics squad is ridiculously strong on papers, although the loss of Alessandro Ballan to a broken leg amongst other things will mean that Thor Hushovd, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet will have to divide the spoils between three men. Taylor Phinney will be hoping to take part in the classics he won as an U23 as well, when he’s not time trialling with the likes of Marco Pinotti. BMC don’t really do sprinters though, although in Adam Blythe and Daniel Oss, they could maybe notch up a few minor placings.
Fashion police: changing out the Hincapie brand for obvious reasons for Pearl Izumi (not Assos?! They’re Swiss?) BMC have kept the same basic design apart from some jagged black on the shorts and some more sponsors logos on the jersey, with ‘Switzerland’ now emphasized below BMC. It’s still a nice kit, not too offensive, but easy to pick out, and the world championship bands look great on it, but maybe they could do with a re branding next year after four years of the same.
What are their targets? Evans will be after the Tour again, even if it’s arguable he should be trying to win the Giro or the Vuelta to complete a Grand Tour set, especially since time is no longer on his side. Van Garderen is also targeting the race, although their is little hint of a Wiggins-Froome style war of words between the pair. Elsewhere, BMC will basically just target the classics – they will want at least one monument, seeing as they haven’t won any in their history despite their squad, and the best chance of that is Gilbert, who is after the Ardennes again, whilst Hushovd will be trying to take that elusive Paris-Roubaix win.
What are they likely to achieve? I’d be very surprised if the win the Tour through either Evans or Van Garderen, but if Evans repeats his 2011 form, he has an excellent chance. The podium, possibly for Van Garderen, is a more likely position, and even then the bottom step. In the classics, they’ll probably be very strong at the Tour of Flanders but fall apart in the finale, before Hushovd battles for third into the Roubaix velodrome behind Cancellara and Boonen. Expect podiums from Milan San-Remo on mind. Gilbert should be back to his 2011 vintage though, and give them a few rainbow jersey wins, although he may have to settle for just one of the big hilly classics, possibly Liege after being outfoxed for the others. They’ll be itching to take the World Team Time Trial championship as well after being narrowly beaten to the win last year, and should get on the podium at the least.
Components: BMC ride BMC bicycles obviously, most likely the Impec, Roadmachine and Grandfondo models, with Shimano drivetrains, 3T components, and supposedly switching to Giro helmets after a few years with Bell. The kit is Pearl Izumi.
The Big Question(s): Can Gilbert honour the Rainbow jersey with a return to his 2011 vintage? Will Evans or Vangarderen end up leader at the Tour? Is Hushovd a spent force in the cobbled classics?