Philippe Gilbert sprinted to his first win of 2016 at the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia yesterday, crossing the line before Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha).
Gilbert said the one-day race unfolded perfectly for BMC.
“Today was just a great day. I won but it was really a win for the whole team. We really raced perfectly together. I’ve done a lot of races but I’ve never really seen anything like this in my life," he said.
"There were 20 guys left at the top of the climb with 20 kilometers to go and I was suffering, but I was still there with the guys. To have all seven of us out of 20 guys was really amazing to see. We rode full gas to the last climb and kept a high tempo, almost at max speed."
Tejay Van Garderen's first test in Europe rather than at Oman paid off attacking with 13km to go on the Cresta del Gallo.
"Tejay attacked two kilometers from the top at which point we were only six or seven guys left. We caught him with two kilometers to go and then I took my chance in the sprint. So there was no way we were going to lose the race, either with Tejay winning solo or me in the sprint. I want to thank all of my teammates because we really raced together and it was so nice," Gilbert said.
Gilbert's lead-out man Ben Hermans finished fifth while Van Garderen crossed the line in seventh.
Earlier in the race, a six rider breakaway held an eight minute advantage before it and the peloton fell apart on the category 1 Alto Collado Bermejo climb. Only 20 riders remained at the front of the race with 80km to go.
With an early season victory under his belt, Gilbert is looking forward to the rest of his season.
“At the Dubai Tour I was already feeling good. I recovered well and trained a lot in between the two races so yeah, I think I’m ready for the season,” Gilbert explained.
The same seven from BMC line up today at the Classica de Almeria.