• Patrick Bevin and his CCC Team at the Santo Tour Down Under. (Getty)Source: Getty
The merger behind the CCC Team has created opportunities for lesser known riders to come the fore as Patrick Bevin demonstrated with a bittersweet performance at the Tour Down Under last week.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
24 Jan 2019 - 8:32 AM  UPDATED 24 Jan 2019 - 8:33 AM

Bevin was the primary antagonist of the race that he may have won had it not been for injuries from a high-speed crash that impeded his run on the sixth and final stage to Willunga Hill.

The finale was disappointing for the 27-year-old but the same can’t be said for a general campaign, which he wouldn’t have been afforded if it weren’t for the amalgamation of the BMC Racing and Professional Continental CCC-Sprandi outfit secured late last year.

The enterprise saw high profile riders and staff including Australians Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) as well as sports director Max Sciandri and coach David Bailey leave the BMC fold. Some of that was down to the risk of BMC collapsing and for others the Polish influence, change in culture and orientation that CCC brought.

However, for guys like Bevin it has already afforded a chance to be seen and in this case prosper with the squad no longer ardently focused on general classification campaigns at stage races and Grand Tours.

“For me personally it’s been an opportunity to grow. The first stage I won, had I had a Richie or Rohan on the team it probably wouldn’t have been an opportunity. There definitely wouldn’t have been an opportunity to sneak some time away [in the break] on the first day,” Bevin said.

“The team is racing totally different and it’s suiting me down to the ground. I am enjoying the way we’re racing and the style of racing we have come here and executed.

“I’m going to go out and scrap for everything all year. This sets a precedent for what’s ahead.”

Controversy and crashes on TDU fifth stage
Caleb Ewan has been relegated from stage five of the Tour Down Under in what was a dramatic day of racing that saw injured race leader Patrick Bevin transported to hospital.

The WorldTour opener in South Australia was an early indication of what general manager Jim Ochowicz has planned for his revised stable.

Greg Van Avermaet stayed the course through the financial uncertainty BMC faced and will be a mainstay at CCC, which will fully back the Paris-Roubaix champion through the spring classics.

“We have a team that can handle the responsibility, get him in position and hold him where he needs to be, to be a contender in the classics. We know that,” said Ochowicz.

“Grand Tours we’ll get in there and take our chances. We don’t have someone who can be on the podium or top 10 so that’s not the focus. Stage wins in the Grand Tours.

“Then these one-week stage races, we’re going to be in here fighting all the time.”

The latter is where New Zealand national time trial champion Bevin and others who once would have been assigned to sacrifice, may have a chance to instead make a firm impression on the peloton as was the case at the Tour Down Under.

“It’s a little bit early yet but he’s going to get a lot more ability to be able to play in the time trials. When you’re a worker, working for a GC contender and you’re a time trialer sometimes you’ve got to give up that time trial chance because you can’t rest the day before,” Ochowicz said.

“Those situations will change for him. I think you’ll see him really put some better time trials together and then that puts you in a GC position sometimes by itself. As the season progresses, we’ll start to play that same scenario out with other riders as well.”

Bevin returned to New Zealand after the Tour Down Under to recover from injuries. It’s not been decided if he will compete at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race as planned this weekend.