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Old 02-22-08, 02:03 PM   #1
FastFreddy
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BMC in ToC, Stage 4 – Equipment Failure?

Consider this VeloNews article about the long, wet, cold stage from Seaside to San Luis Obispo. Quote:

But Mother Nature continually pelted the riders with hellacious conditions, and after 40 miles chinks appeared in the breakaway. Belgy faded back to the peloton and abandoned at the base of the first KOM. Hivert also faded and eventually called it quits. Kilun and Meade were dropped a short time later, though the former eventually caught back on. Stewart, whose efforts on the climbs made him the virtual King of the Mountains points leader, abandoned after suffering from hypothermia.

“‘I couldn’t hold onto the handlebars anymore, and that was it,’ he said


At the time he abandoned, Jackson Stewart (BMC) was leading [virtually] in KOM points and he (and, by extension, BMC) lost that because they were unprepared for the weather. Had they had proper clothing for a cold, rainy day – good gloves specifically – the result probably would have been different.

Do I have a point or am I all wet?
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Old 02-22-08, 02:14 PM   #2
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Lack of warm clothing does not equal equipment failure
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Old 02-22-08, 02:29 PM   #3
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I don't think one particular piece of equipment would have made a difference.

In the famous '88 Giro when Hampsten took pink on the Gavia stage, 7-11 had soigneurs with full kits, hot tea, etc waiting for the riders at some point on the mountain.

Someone who burns all his matches in breaks and going for KOM points is going to run out of gas alot quicker than those sitting in the field, sheltered from the wind, etc. I think he was one of the prior days' break riders too, so he was already at a severely depleted state.

The failure was in the management of the team on that day.

Although hind sight is easy, some kind of heated drink thing probably would have helped a lot, ditto frequent changes of wet, soggy gear, and finally, windproof layers somewhere in that BMC kit.

For the last few years at the Spring Series I promote, I've brought a microwave. I heat up coffee and donuts (this year I hope to bring real food). Nice hot coffee after standing around in 30-40 degree weather (or sweeping or marshaling or whatever) is great. If I can bump that up to having some nice pasta and stuff then I'll feel a LOT better come race time, 5-6 hours after I get to the course.

I also bring a lot of tape and plastic bags for sealing myself up if it rains. I don't mind being wet, what I mind is being wet with cold "outside" water. I got tired watching the live amgen-whatever.com feed, the rain and wind seemed absolutely miserable.

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Old 02-22-08, 02:34 PM   #4
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Odd, they are wearing Assos stuff, if they "HAD" the correct stuff, they should have been good to go.
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Old 02-22-08, 03:07 PM   #5
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They didn't look too warm and waterproof out there. I'd hazard a guess that some good 'ol winter riding gear should have been the rule of the day. Rollin' (Canadian) that won is acclimatized to winter riding. When it's wet and cold beyond the norm like that, it literally becomes a matter of survival. To get so cold you can't hold the bars anymore says bad preparation on behalf of Director Sportifs.
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Old 02-22-08, 03:13 PM   #6
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I think you're confusing the terms of BMC the bike company, versus BMC the cycling team, which rides BMC bikes.
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Old 02-22-08, 03:19 PM   #7
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HTFU failure if you ask me
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Old 02-22-08, 03:21 PM   #8
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Stewart abandoned and was treated for hypothermia. Hypothermia. That's the one where your body temp is so low, your brain stops working.
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Old 02-22-08, 03:29 PM   #9
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Yup, there is no HTFU in winter...it's be prepared or get your butt back inside before you get frost bite, hypothermia, or flat out die.
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Old 02-22-08, 03:43 PM   #10
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Sorry, but 50 degrees and raining is not "winter weather".

And yes, it would have sucked to ride a bike in that for 7hrs, regardless of where you're from.
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Old 02-22-08, 03:44 PM   #11
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Maybe the term “Equipment Failure” wasn’t the best choice of words, but clearly there was a failure by Team BMC that involved equipment.

If you believe the VeloNews article, you can’t help but conclude that Stewart probably wouldn’t have abandoned had he had proper clothing for the conditions. So Team BMC failed him and lost their hope of a KOM victory.

And it’s my experience that gloves are the single most critical clothing item in cold weather. If you can’t grasp the handlebars and work the brakes, it’s over.
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Old 02-22-08, 03:56 PM   #12
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50 works out to 10C ... tendinitis can happen at 15C. Add wet and wind, and you have wind chills taking you to the freezing mark... I'll be willing to call that pro winter riding. Maybe not for you and I commuting in the frozen wastelands, but for those cats for sure that was as cold as they'd want to be.
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Old 02-22-08, 05:33 PM   #13
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Apparently several riders put on casual kit trawled off the mechanics - you'll notice somee of the Astana riders wearing random blue wind breakers. One Rabobank rider too.
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Old 02-22-08, 05:39 PM   #14
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Even at the pro level it is the competetors responsibillity to be prepared.
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Old 02-22-08, 05:39 PM   #15
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Those guys were pretty much soaked the entire ride, with a pretty stiff wind off the ocean. Imagine swimming in 50F water for a couple hours and tell me if you think you'd be vulnerable to hypothermia.
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Old 02-22-08, 07:03 PM   #16
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There might even be a food issue here. Riding under those conditions your body uses energy just to stay warm. If you don't factor this in you can find yourself cold, spent and looking for a ride. It's pretty hard to go on in those conditions. Your body might be able to go on but your brain is screaming at you to get in the f*#@*#@g team car.

Stage whatever of a race I did 5 or 6 years ago was a 160 or 170km ride that finished atop a mountain where the road was at 3200m. It was raining and 3c at the top with wet snow. This kind of climbing is not my strength. I was looking to finish inside the time delay.

The guy that won was a climber from Hong Kong who rode for a Continental Pro team in Italy as their climber. He was dressed like Rollin with Vasoline (sp?) (or something like it) smeared on his skin. I didn't see him finish but since he started the next day he was ok.

I wore every piece of kit I brought with me. We also had surgical gloves under our regular gloves. THIS was a godsend. The race took us well above the tree line and into the clouds so there was no shelter from the blustering winds that shoved you all over the road. The last hour became about the 30m of road you could see in front of you. I got to the top and thought I was actually pretty toasty (and 5kg heavier with all the extra layers) but once I felt the warm air inside our team car I knew that I was mistaken.

As soon as a rider arrived they were stuffed into their team cars which were running and had the heat turned on full blast. We had warm tea and our usual post race food while we waited for our last team mate in complete silence. Suddenly one of the doors swung open and our mechanic stuffed Haung into the seat next to me. He sat there for a second with the same distant gaze we all had on and then started sobbing.

He had made the time delay but was spent. We hadn't gotten the food right. We got some tea in him and gave him all the food we could find. On the long drive down the mountain to the hotel in the next morning's start town he apologized for crying. Everyone looked at him as if he was crazy. I think we all would have cried if we'd had the energy. This was the first time this guy had ridden at this level. He'd dug DEEP and pulled it off. We needed him to finish so we could get a team ranking and make our sponsors happy. He knew this and had come through.

He quite the sport at the end of the season.

These guys had a tough ride yesterday. When you've been through something similar you've earned the right to tell them to HTFU. Funny thing is, IMHO, if you have been there you are probably less likely to say HTFU. Just be thankful it wasn't you and you could watch the coverage in a nice warm, cozy armchair.

My 2 bits.

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Old 02-22-08, 09:00 PM   #17
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These guys had a tough ride yesterday. When you've been through something similar you've earned the right to tell them to HTFU. Funny thing is, IMHO, if you have been there you are probably less likely to say HTFU. Just be thankful it wasn't you and you could watch the coverage in a nice warm, cozy armchair.

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+1000, it makes me laugh when people are commenting that pro riders need to HTFU. I'm sick of that saying in general.
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Old 02-22-08, 09:17 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by FastFreddy View Post
Maybe the term “Equipment Failure” wasn’t the best choice of words, but clearly there was a failure by Team BMC that involved equipment.

If you believe the VeloNews article, you can’t help but conclude that Stewart probably wouldn’t have abandoned had he had proper clothing for the conditions. So Team BMC failed him and lost their hope of a KOM victory.
BMC wasn't the only one with issues, clearly, so I think these reports should be taken with a grain of salt. What about Gerolsteiner and Slipstream? Regardless of the reason for abandoning, all three teams lost leader's jerseys.

I think all the issues (the stomach bug, the wet and cold conditions, the tired legs, etc.) slowly began to amplify each other to the point of breaking. And because of that, I personally can't criticize the team all that much.

BMC rode an aggressive and exciting race. They sent their guys up the road in nearly every break thus far and were fairly successful each time. Good for them, really.
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Old 02-22-08, 11:51 PM   #19
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As horrible as it was, they were almost ALL underdressed. Huge mistake by every team in my opinion.
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Old 02-23-08, 12:09 AM   #20
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I was just talking with a friend about that. The Tour of California is supposed to be fine in Feb because the weather is rarely all that terrible around here. They just got unlucky this year and were simply unprepared.

I know we Californians need to HTFU when it comes to weather, but even at 40 degrees, my toes, hands and face get cold and numb even with protection on, and I'm rarely out in that weather for more than 2 hours, let alone 7!
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Old 02-23-08, 12:25 AM   #21
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Quote:
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Sorry, but 50 degrees and raining is not "winter weather".
It is in our part of California.

You with sub-freezing temps and inches of snow on the Ocan disparage us if you want, but this is our winter. Our summers often record temps >100.

The first few winters I lived out here summer seemed a mild spring. Now that I've acclimated I've forgotten New Jersey's bitter chill, and crank on the heat at 45 degrees. Yeah, we're weenies, but we're used to it.
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Old 02-23-08, 02:21 AM   #22
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As horrible as it was, they were almost ALL underdressed. Huge mistake by every team in my opinion.
I'd agree with that. Rider borrowing jackets from mechanics? WTF is that? From what I've seen (only still pictures. No video) there was a huge underestimation of the possible weather conditions.

I can almost understand it for the Euro teams who have to pack and ship a lot of stuff across the pond to somewhere that has a reputation of having pretty nice weather but the domestic squads have no excuse.

Also consider that there are many riders who are here because they have contractual obligations and this isn't all that important for them. It's way too early for some of these guys to really be on form unlike Levi who had probably made this a priority (to some degree) for the season.

Under those conditions it gets pretty hard to ignore that inner voice (read: survival mechanism) screaming in your head to pull over and get in the car.

Epic stage. One that people should talk about for a while. In the end, it may actually be good for the race.
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