Swiss company BMC has found a new focus after pulling their sponsorship from the top pro teams Phonak and Astana. They're now supporting their own continental team, BMC Racing, which was granted ProTour wildcard status by the UCI recently. This means that in theory, they can be invited to the biggest professional races, although the battle between the UCI and the grand tour organisers may affect that.
BMC Racing's riders are on the top-end SLC01 Pro Machines, and at the Tour of California last month, we measured up second year pro Scott Nydam's rig. 30 year-old Nydam won the king of the mountains classification in the race and shared in the 'most aggressive' prize that the team won after several gutsy performances. And unlike many riders who have made the jump to the pro ranks, Nydam has had the luxury of competing aboard the same equipment he used as an amateur.
"I came to Boulder and the first one to give me a ride on an amateur team was Nick Howe from Sports Garage [a local bicycle shop]. He was the first to put me on a BMC Pro Machine and I went and got some results on that bike. Also, he linked me together and introduced me to Gavin Chilcott who was in the process of building up the amateur BMC team. So it's like, within the BMC family, I just kind of jumped ship from a small amateur team to what the team is now today."
BMC claims its Pro Machine is the first carbon frame in the world to use Easton carbon nanotube-reinforced resins throughout, an ingredient that supposedly adds toughness and rigidity. Carbon is used almost exclusively throughout the frame, including the rear dropouts, integrated headset bearing seats, built-in seatpost clamp and even the moulded-in housing stops.
The Pro Machine is also distinctive for its unique Integrated Skeleton Concept shaping around the top of the seat tube which is easily spotted from quite a distance. According to BMC, ISC allows its designers to more finely tune how forces are distributed through the frame compared to traditional joints.
Nydam's bike is fitted with a wealth of top-shelf kit, including a Campagnolo Record groupset, an Easton carbon seatpost, Easton's lightweight EA90 aluminium stem, and a Selle Italia SLR Team Edition saddle. The wheels are actually hand built for the team and comprise Easton EC90 Aero tubular carbon rims, DT Swiss 240s hubs and DT Swiss Aerolite bladed spokes and alloy nipples. Tires are by Continental and Speedplay outfits Nydam with its 'white hot' Zero pedals. The total weight of Nydam's rig was just 6.95kg (15.32lb) when we caught up with him just prior to the Tour of California time trial stage in Solvang.
"I think as far as all the different obstacles I've had to deal with getting into the professional level, one thing that's been convenient is being on the same equipment and being familiar with it," said Nydam. "Ever since I've been on a BMC it's never been the equipment holding me back. I feel comfortable on my bike, I'm familiar with it. So I couldn't ask for anything better.
"I've seen things change a little bit here and there with the BMC Pro Machine; it feels a bit more reinforced on the lower end around the bottom bracket area, they put on a stiffer fork… so it feels a little more stable on the front end as well. It descends a lot better than I felt with my superlight fork in years past. It's a super bike. I can feel the difference."
After his impressive display at the Tour of California, what does the future hold for Nydam? "I want to find my ceiling," said Nydam. "I want to go as far as I can.
"Honestly, the first time I really opened myself up to doing the Tour de France was just in the past couple of weeks when I found out we'd received wild card status with UCI. So that means for the first time in my life I've been eligible and in a position where we could actually be at the Tour de France. That's not going to happen this year ... but it's well within the realm of possibility and it's the trajectory that this team is going.
"I would love to race at the top of the sport. So if I can keep pace with the program I'll probably find that someday."
Depending on how things go, 'someday' might not be all far off for Nydam and the BMC Racing team.