Thankfully for Sam Dobbs despite the carnage in Fleche du Sud he was able to dodge the crashes and emerge from stage 3 unscathed. We caught up with the 19 year old as the BMC Development rider continues to get accustomed with European Racing in a whole new gear.
Crashes are part and parcel of the sport, but a crash of this magnitude can certainly be considered a rarity. The incident occurred in stage 3 of Fleche du Sud, an event that saw Sam Dobbs present at in the company of compatriots Aaron Gate and Tom Scully. “Was quite scary to be fair, was a really huge crash with 40 guys down. One in a coma, at least 5-6 guys with collarbone broken. None of our guys went down thankfully; but bit of a shock,” Sam told RoadCycling.
While Sam is familiar with European racing (he took the Belgian kermesse scene by storm last year) the step up to BMC Development is a massive leap forward for him. “For me being my first tour over here and it being at such a high level with the pro continental teams it definitely takes adjusting to, very stressful and with a really nervous race you just can’t switch off for the 4 hours racing.”
The Fleche du Sud is a UCI 2.2 race and has attracted ProContinental outfit Drapac Pro Cycling; the team of Tom Scully. Also present are national teams from Germany, Sweden and Canada as well as a number of others including An Post-Chainreaction with Aaron Gate and Cyclingteam Jo Piels; who faced tragedy in the Carpathian Couriers race where Gijs Verdick was taken to hospital having suffered a heart attack during the night.
So far the experience of riding for BMC Development has been a really good one for 19 year old Dobbs, who hit the ground running in his first race earlier this week. In the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt for U23 riders Sam finished in the top 15; along with teammate Pascal Eenkohoorn. “I’m feeling ok, I felt really good in Frankfurt a few days back where I was 14th but now a few days In to the tour I’m a bit fatigued, but that’s just from a lack of racing that can’t be trained,” Sam told us.
In Frankfurt Sam showed a strength in the face of new beginnings to challenge for the win, over a race that he rather enjoyed. “It was a really nice race, great course with a 10km climb early in. Then some steep climbs that ramped up to 25%,” Sam told us. The BMC Development Team immediately got stuck straight into the thick of the action; playing an aggressive race throughout. “We had guys in all the moves but it came to a big group of still 60 riders in the finishing circuit. We didn’t really have a sprinter and the pace was too high for any last minute attacks so it was just about making the best out of the situation.”
Fortunately for Dobbs he managed to dodge several crashes that eventuated in the finishing stages of his first race in Europe this year and set himself up for the finish. “It was pretty dicey in the final 5 km. Crashes on almost every corner. I got into a nice position round the final bend but just had nothing left against the sprinters. Was pretty happy and felt really good,” Sam said.
Up ahead Sam is looking to plenty of race time that will get him up to speed; resulting in some changes to him as a rider or so he anticipates. “I have [a lot of] racing with Tour of Berlin next week and Ardennes the following and so on. So after I recover in end of June I’ll be a different rider physically and mentally,” he said.
For now though Dobbs must turn his attention to the remaining two stages of Fleche du Sud, where he will be on domestique duty for his teammates while also not shying away for an opportunity should one arise for him. “The next few days is helping the team,” said Dobbs. “I’m strong on the climbs so my job is setting the guys up for the final or being there at the end. I’m confident that we can put up a good fight for the overall classification.”
Currently Fabian Lienhard is the best placed of Dobbs’ teammates after taking 8th place in stage 1 and 9th in stage 2; he currently sits sixth overall 1.11mins behind leader Twan Van Den Brand of Cyclingteam Jo Piels.
Photo: BMC Development