Three months ago, in the first of the Offseason Capsule series, Chris posted a look at BMC. Refresh your memory here.
A major theme of the post and many of the comments was that the team is a bit of a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. There was a strong feeling of the whole being decidedly less than the sum of its parts.
Now, I know it's only February. We're obviously in pre-season and first impressions can be deceptive. Purito has been pottering round the back of the peloton smoking cigarillos in Argentina and Dubai. Another guy of whom most of us have barely heard, if at all, had his day of glory at La Marseillaise.
But is it possible that we are seeing a new, harder, more focused team in the rossoneri? Cuddles looked sharp in his stage win at the Tour Down Under. Mini-Phinney was both cute and sharp in Dubai to win his first stage race. Big Stevo Cummings dug deep on Mont Faron yesterday to win his first stage race.
Perhaps more significantly, there are quotes from the riders that seem to be meaningful as evidence that there is a completely new, possibly more effective, approach to planning and strategy across the whole team.
Here's Steve Cummings:
It's nice to find this level now, especially in a year when the management has decided to give me an important role in several stage races with a time trial. This motivates me even more.
And Taylor Phinney:
The team has a different approach this year: all the riders have individual goals, and I'm a goal-setting-type person, so I like that. Today was a big goal for me.
And Philippe Gilbert:
For everybody it's like a new team. It's a completely different mentality. We can feel it, we can see it in the results, even if it's only the first two or three races, we can see we are there with another approach to cycling and racing.... Everybody has a goal now, everybody has motivation. We can feel that everybody is very motivated.
All quotes from CyclingQuotes
Individual goals; tailoring a rider's race programme to his skillset; getting every team member motivated. It doesn't sound like rocket science. You would think and hope that such an approach would be pretty basic for a sports team with much money and high ambition. Yet it would seem that this hasn't been the case at BMC in the past.
There was a much publicised parting of the ways with John Lelangue as BMC's Sport Director at the end of last year's Tour de France. Team results definitely improved in the second half of last season. Allan Peiper has been inserted as Sporting Manager and much of the credit, both within and without the team, is currently going to him. There is a recent in-depth interview with him at Cycling Central here.
With the money, the talent, the support structure, and a sensible plan, is 2014 the year when BMC finally get back on track and punch their weight effectively? Can you afford not to have a BMC rider or two on your team for FSA-DS?