Danny Pate has gone to the Tour de France for the past two years, but he’s not sure if he’s going back for a third.
Pate ─ who was on the attack in Thursday’s fourth stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné ─ said he’s on the bubble on whether or not he’ll be back with his Garmin-Transitions teammates for the 2010 Tour.
“I will be one of the last guys to make our Tour team. I don’t really know yet,” Pate told VeloNews. “I won’t know until right before the Tour. The best guys are going to go. You cannot argue with that.”
Pate, 31, has been one of the cornerstones of the team, joining TIAA-CREF in 2006, and then helping to play a key role in the team’s early grand tour successes.
He rode with the team’s first grand tour victory in the team time trial to open the 2008 Giro d’Italia that netted the maglia rosa for Christian Vande Velde and completed both the 2008 and 2009 Tours with the team.
But a deeper Garmin squad and the rising prominence of sprinter Tyler Farrar means it’s tougher to make the Tour Nine.
“Our team’s a little harder to make than in years past. There are four or five guys for the last two spots,” Pate said. “We’ll probably take three sprinters, but that’s a question for Matt (White sport director). It depends on they want to bring more climbers or more guys for the flats. That’s a decision they’ll make.”
Pate featured in one of the best days for Garmin in their debut 2008 Tour. He snuck into the winning, four-man breakaway over the Col del Agnel and finished third in the stage behind winner Simon Gerrans.
Thursday’s Dauphiné stage traced close to the same mountains featured in the 2008 breakaway and Pate was on the march again.
Strong headwinds and only one breakaway partner stifled his chances for the stage win Thursday, but Pate said the eight-day Dauphiné is ideal to get his legs in shape for the Tour if he gets the nod.
Pate remains optimistic he will race the Tour, but acknowledges the decision is not in his hands.
“If I don’t make the Tour, it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “If I don’t make it, it will be for a reason. I will have some more races coming up, Tour of Poland and the Vuelta.”