Tejay van Garderen was also pleased with what he characterized as his best time trial of his career.
With fifth-place overall and the white jersey from the Tour de France, van Garderen came into the worlds with a goal of reaching the podium. He did so on Sunday when BMC Racing was second to Martin’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad in the team time trial. To be so close again did not leave him disappointed.
“Nobody likes to get fourth place, but this is the first fourth place I am happy with. It would have been nice to have gone five seconds faster and get a medal, but normally one-day time trials are not my thing,” van Garderen told VeloNews after the race. “I am more a stage race time trialer, so to confirm that I can do it on the day, that’s good for the future.”
Both Phinney and van Garderen came into Valkenburg with quiet ambitions to reach the podium.
“With (Fabian) Cancellara and (Bradley) Wiggins gone, we knew that the medals were a little bit open. Tony has not been untouchable like he was last year; we thought we could come away with it,” said van Garderen. “Phinney almost did. That was an impressive ride.
Much like Phinney, van Garderen reached a new level during 2012, reaching the Tour podium and posting strong results across the season. The fourth-year pro is quite the opposite of Phinney, who is developing into a one-day TT specialist. Van Garderen is honing his grand tour credentials, when time trials come in the middle of long battles stretched out over weeks of intense racing and recovery.
Fifth at the Tour this year — with two top-10 TT rides — confirmed that van Garderen could post strong time trial results as part of a three-week tour. Lining up for a one-day shot like the worlds is quite the different animal, one that the American has said doesn’t suit him.
His performance Wednesday will only fuel van Garderen’s ambitions for the future.
“I will play the lottery every year and hopefully one year I just have an incredible day. I am not a complete specialist on a one-day time trial, but you never know what can happen,” he said. “Every year I feel like I am getting better and getting stronger. I haven’t racked up a ton of wins, but I am getting closer, nipping at the heels. Maybe one of these years I will trade these top-fives and start popping for some wins.”
For Sunday’s men’s road race, Phinney and van Garderen will once again be the riders at the center of gravity.
“We’re going for it. I think the team is mostly rallied around me,” van Garderen said about Sunday’s road race. “We will see what happens on the day, but I will put my hand up and ask those guys for their help.”
Just in the early 20s, the pair is quickly becoming the focal point of U.S. cycling, for the future, and right now.