The BMC Racing Team have been invited to race in the 12 April epic classic Paris-Roubaix, won by QuickStep's Belgian freight train Tom Boonen in 2008.
"We're very happy to have been invited to the Paris-Roubaix as it shows the level of confidence that the race organizations have in our future," BMC's directeur sportif John Lelangue said. "It's an incredible race and every one of our riders will be proud to participate."
Team member Tony Cruz has raced Paris-Roubaix with George Hincapie when they were on the US Postal/Discovery Channel teams together. Lelangue, former director for Phonak, understands the extremely high level of competition will necessitate realistic expectations, as Paris-Roubaix will arguably be the most prestigious and difficult race yet for BMC.
"In such a race, the level is so high that we will need to set attainable objectives," Lelangue added. "First and foremost we are excited about gaining the experience, and so we will work hard to be aggressive in the breaks and ultimately be there at the end in Roubaix."
Paris-Roubaix is both feared and dreaded by many in the peloton. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong never participated, and French legend Bernard Hinault reluctantly caved to the pressure, and won the 1981 wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey with more contempt than elation. For others, Paris-Roubaix is one of those special races that every professional wants to race at least once in a career.
BMC have a stable of young riders who are keen to excel on the cobbles. "We will certainly bring a group of riders motivated to succeed in the race," Lelangue said. "Danilo Wyss took a podium place in the U23 race a couple of years ago, so we are counting on young riders like Wyss, Martin Kohler, Thomas Frei and Brent Bookwalter.
"I was also very pleased to see how well Ian McKissick handled the cobbles in the most recent races in Flanders, and we will have more experienced riders like Alex Moos, Jeff Louder and Tony Cruz to round out a very strong group." The team have a full schedule between now and 12 April to help prepare them for their rendezvous with the cobbles.
"I'm really proud for the team and know that the guys will arrive at the start line well prepared and motivated," Lelangue said.