LIÈGE, Belgium (VN) — Jim Ochowicz’s BMC Racing Team is one of the strongest squads at the 2012 Tour de France. And defending champ Cadel Evans is back to form, a clear and present danger to repeat.
Yet BMC finds itself eclipsed by Team Sky, which has swept the early-season stage races with a ruthless precision. The team’s willingness to assert itself — and the capability of its general-classification rider — is reminiscent of Lance Armstrong’s teams, which so easily pulled races together. Granted, the Sky team has yet to dominate a Tour de France, but it’s not hard to imagine it happening.
“It doesn’t hurt us,” Ochowicz said. “We’re not the favorites. That’s the bottom line, I think, in terms of the media. And we’re OK with that.
“We weren’t the favorites last year, either. So we’re in the same box. What Sky has got to deal with is what Sky has got to deal with. I don’t have to make that strategy.”
It’s a strange scene, a super-team with a defending champion that’s been overshadowed by Bradley Wiggins and Sky. Tactically, BMC will still have to work, but if things start going haywire it’s a safe bet Sky will put itself at the front of the bunch.
Ochowicz said Evans has the same form as last year, but added that Wiggins deserved the early-season laurels.
“There’s always different perspectives on who’s going to be the top candidate,” Ochowicz said. “Wiggins had the best team. Between the end of last year and the start [Saturday], Wiggins has been the best rider.”
But there may be more to the 2012 Tour than the Evans-Wiggins matchup. A dozen or so riders are capable of a strong finish in Paris, says Ochowicz.
“If you just look back on last year’s race with [Thomas] Voeckler — he almost took it to the end. … There will be someone like that again,” he said. “I can’t give you five names. I think it’s more like 10 or 15.
“And one or two of them are going to have a lot of good luck, and that’s going to play to their advantage. And four or five of them are going to have bad luck and maybe not even be in the final in Paris.”