ASPEN, Colo. (VN) — After a trying Tour de France, which saw the 2012 white-jersey winner fall to 45th in this year’s general classification, BMC’s Tejay van Garderen hopes to regain his winning form at Colorado’s USA Pro Challenge.
The seven-day stage race begins Monday with a 64.8-mile circuit race through the streets of Aspen and neighboring Snowmass.
“I’m definitely motivated to win,” van Garderen said.
The 24-year-old Boulder resident will have his work cut out for him against a potent field that includes Garmin-Sharp’s recent Tour of Utah winner, Tom Danielson, and the one-two punch of Team Sky’s Chris Froome and Richie Porte.
“It’s not going to be easy,” admits the 2013 Amgen Tour of California winner. “Garmin-Sharp has a really deep team. Sky has a really deep team. But I like my chances here.”
2013 will mark van Garderen’s third appearance at the race after a pair of previous podium finishes. In 2011, he led the Pro Challenge for one day and finished third. Last year, he placed second overall after winning stage 2 and leading the race for three days.
Despite losing time on the GC, van Garderen put in one of the Tour’s most memorable performances with a brash solo breakaway on stage 18’s double ascent of L’Alpe d’Huez. After soloing off the front for much of the second ascent, van Garderen was reeled in by eventual stage winner Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) with approximately 2km to go.
Since finishing the Tour, van Garderen has been training around his home in Boulder and performing reconnaissance on some of the race’s most crucial stages, including Friday’s uphill time trial in Vail. The 10-mile course begins at roughly 8,000 feet above sea level and gains an additional 1,500 feet on course.
“I’ve done a lot of work in the time trial position, going uphill,” van Garderen said. “I think the biggest part of that is going to be the pacing strategy and doing a full-gas effort uphill at [almost] 10,000 feet.
“It’s easy to blow up, so you really have to pace yourself. I’m definitely hoping to have a better run at it than I did in 2011.”
BMC Racing Team assistant director Jackson Stewart says van Garderen’s team, composed primarily of riders who supported his win at May’s Amgen Tour, is even stronger than it was at that time.
“Even though it is pretty much the same guys, technically it is a stronger squad because so many of these guys have had really strong rides since California,” Stewart said.
Joining van Garderen in Colorado will be BMC teammates Brent Bookwalter (USA), Steve Cummings (GBR), Mathias Frank (SUI), Michael Schär (SUI), Julien Taramarcaz (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), and Larry Warbasse (USA).
For van Garderen, the opportunity to snag a win on his home turf is one he relishes.
“The Pro Challenge is definitely a special race for me and I’m excited to get there. I’m certainly going to be highly motivated.”