SUPER-BESSE, France (VN) — Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) lit up the roads of France with a thrilling ride in Saturday’s eighth stage that confirmed his status as a future grand-tour rider.
The Tour rookie attacked with panache and ended up with a trip to the podium for his efforts, earning kisses from the podium girls after taking the climber’s jersey and winning the day’s most aggressive rider prize.
HTC-Highroad brass was more than pleased with Van Garderen’s ride and quickly lauded his sacrifice and teamwork in the first week of the Tour.
“He had carte blanche today. We knew there was a good chance of a breakaway staying away today and Tejay had freedom to move,” HTC sport director Brian Holm told VeloNews. “We all know how hard he’s been working for the team. And he paid the price for that today. Had he not been working so hard, he would have be on the winner’s podium today.”
Van Garderen has more than delivered his end of the bargain through the first week of the Tour, riding his tail off for the team in performances that confirmed he was worthy of selection for the Tour de France squad.
Holm lauded Van Garderen’s sacrifice and says the best example of that generosity is how he gave up on a shot for the white jersey in the first week to help the team win stages.
“Tejay was only one second out of the white jersey, but he was very unselfish and worked entirely for the team,” Holm explained. “Some riders might hold a little back when the team asks them to work, just to stay close in something like the white jersey. Tejay gave everything he had every day and then sat up after working. That is a team player.
“We are here with two big captains, Cav’ in the sprints, Tony in the GC. Tejay understands that and he’s doing a great job so far. He’s gotten a lot of respect from the team by how hard he’s working.”
Holm said HTC is hot on Van Garderen’s grand-tour potential, but cautioned that fans cannot expect too much too soon.
“He’s young. We have to build slowly. He needs to take his time at the Tour,” he said. “He’ll get that stage win some day, don’t worry. And the GC? He could be on the podium. We shall see.”
Nygaard: ‘Fuglsang is our third option’
Brian Nygaard, general manager at Leopard-Trek, says the team has rolled out of the first week of the Tour de France in ideal position. The team has its GC contenders well-protected and the Schlecks have a tidy head start on Alberto Contador.
“There’s a perfect feeling on the team. We’ve avoided crashes and we haven’t lost any major time,” Nygaard told VeloNews. “We proved it that our selection for the Tour was to keep our GC guys out of trouble. We are here to win to the Tour. There is no such thing as a comfortable gap. You might have a bad day at any moment. It will be a very interesting Tour until the last days.”
Nygaard also suggested that Jakob Fuglsang could be the team’s third GC option if tragedy struck the favored Schleck brothers. He said Leopard-Trek’s tactic will not be to attack blindly in the mountains.
“Andy feels good and he knows where he needs to be. It’s easier to show that on the mountains and he did it today. Our tactics depends on how the guys are feeling on the day. You can put yourself into a sticky situation if you go all out when the guys are not feeling so great,” Nygaard said.
“We are happy that we have our three GC riders in good shape. We are taking it climb by climb. We’re in a comfortable position. We have huge confirmation that we selected the right people for the race.”
Yellow: Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) defied expectations to defend yellow against Cadel Evans (BMC) by one second.
Green: Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) regained the points jersey in a seesaw battle with José Rojas (Movistar). Gilbert “won” the day’s intermediate sprint behind the day’s breakaway and dashed to second at the line to reclaim the jersey, 187 to Rojas’ 172.
Polka-dot: Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) took the King of Mountains jersey away from Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil). Van Garderen is tied with stage-winner Costa with five points, but Van Garderen won the more difficult third-category climb and takes the jersey
White: Robert Gesink (Rabobank) kept the under-25 jersey despite losing time to his GC rivals on the stage. He leads Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) by 59 seconds
Best team: Garmin-Cervélo keeps its grip on the team category, 4 seconds ahead of Leopard-Trek
Most aggressive: Van Garderen
Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas-Cannondale), pain in buttocks; Roman Kreuziger (Astana), pain in left wrist; Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil), digestive troubles; Biel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), general pain.
Benat Intxausti (Movistar) abandoned with injuries suffered a few days ago; Chris Horner (RadioShack) did not star. 188 riders remain in the peloton.
Continued cool, cloudy with intermittent showers, highs ranging from 15C to 20C, depending on elevation, with northerly winds at 10kph.