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May. 29, 2008
It’s lucky number 13 as BMC’s Tolleson sprints to victory at Leelanau
In a nation known for its hilly stage races and flat, fast criteriums, northern Michigan’s Tour de Leelanau is a bit of an anomaly in the U.S. With its one-day format, relentless rolling hills, and cold, damp weather, this race is more typical of a Belgian Classic than a standard American road race.

Knowing the tough course would whittle the race down to a select few by the finish, BMC race director Gavin Chilcott made sure his team was represented well in the 16-man break that finally escaped the peloton at 72km. “The race unfolded as we expected,” Chilcott said. “It was always going to be a race of attrition where each team was going to be very sensitive to the composition of the breakaways.”

Sure enough, as the final breakaway formed, BMC, Team Successful Living and hometown favorites, Bissell, each placed four riders in it.

Chilcott liked his team’s chances of winning the race, especially after five riders, including BMC’s Taylor Tolleson and Darren Lill, pulled free of the overly large break with 20km remaining. Team Bissell, who also placed two riders in the final five, were wary of pulling lightning-quick Canadian sprinter Charles Dionne to the line, and continuously attacked the small group with hopes of dropping him early.

BMC’s Lill, riding for Tolleson, worked hard to keep the group together, confident in the finishing kick of his young BMC teammate. “In the last 20km, there were a lot of attacks and Darren did a fantastic job,” Taylor explained, “We really helped each other.” As the team had hoped, the group was intact for the long uphill run to the finish. With Lill serving as his personal leadout train, even after marking a flurry of attacks, Tolleson was able to sprint around his formidable foes and capture the win. “I like sprinting; it is a good way to win a race!” Taylor joked. “But I was really just happy to be able to come through for the team.” Yep…it’s hard not to like these guys.

On an interesting note…

The day had begun ominously enough, as Tolleson was handed race number 13 during the early morning rain showers. The young Californian, who is a surfer in his spare time and apparently used to danger, took it in stride and let tradition dictate his actions, pinning his number on upside down to ward off the any bad luck it might bring. Apparently it worked.

I’m sure Taylor will be hoping for lucky number 13 in Philly next weekend. Bring it, fellas.

If you're still wanting more details on Tolleson's win, check out the official BMC website for another version of the full story.
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Team Clif Bar

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