The BMC implosion at the Tour de France has everybody wondering how the merde hit the fan.
Team director John Lelangue has left for those vague and mysterious “personal reasons.” What — tired of driving seven hours a day around France?
According to E’Equipe, Lelangue engaged in a “violent” argument with fellow director Yvon Ledanois. And it wasn’t about hotel accommodations and whether to get the ham or pate sandwiches.
The double shot of Cadel Evans, coming off an impressive third place overall in the Giro d’Italia, and young Tejay van Garderen, winner of the Tour of California, failed to impress in Le Grand Shindig.
If reports are correct, there was also an issue with World Champion Philippe Gilbert wanting to jump into breakaways but instead being forced to support Evans and van Garderen. Rainbows don’t make good domestiques.
It was a crappy Tour de France for BMC once the race hit the Pyrenees. Van Garderen had a terrible jour sans and lost something like 12 minutes, GC over. The 36 year old diesel engine Evans was more consistent but consistently mediocre. Throw out Tejay’s bad day and who would really argue that van Garderen will be the captain next year?
The question is, who’s now running the show at BMC? Since bringing on Thor Hushovd and Gilbert, results have been relentlessly overwhelming. The critique was too many leaders and not enough followers. There never seemed to be a focus or cohesive plan on how to manage all the egos and race agendas. If Sky’s classics squad hadn’t floundered to such a degree, critics would have pointed out that BMC was also largely invisible.
On a personal note, I’ve spent time hanging out in front of the Garmin-Sharp and BMC team buses during the Tour and the vibe is different. It’s relaxed and supportive with Charly Wegelius’ crew but my sense was the BMC was wound pretty tight.
Take all those events into account and team owner Andy Rihs has decided that even as a vanity project, €25 million a year isn’t a real smart deal. Who can blame the guy — he’s been patient enough.
It seems to us that BMC is a team in major transition. Hushovd appears unable to return to the form he had a Garmin and all-world Gilbert still suffers from high expectations and a curious run of almosts. He animates races but doesn’t win them.
Then there’s an aging captain who continues to expect full team support despite floundering in the last two Tours de France and a young gun in van Garderen who is ready to take over.
That requires a confident and skilled team manager. With John Lelangue now gone, nobody has the identity of that new person.