MONTÉLIMAR, France (VN) — BMC Racing is not worried for its young American star Tejay van Garderen because the team believes that he has plenty of time to reach his best for the Tour de France.
“The Tour’s his big goal, for all of us,” sports director, Yvon Ledanois told VeloNews. “Let’s take it slowly. I trust him. I’m sure that if he avoids problems in the first week, then he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
Van Garderen returned to racing this week in the Critérium du Dauphiné stage race after a rocky spring campaign where he fell sick in Paris-Nice and crashed out of the Tour de Romandie.
Only now, less than a month from the Tour de France start in Yorkshire, is he revving his motor running at top speed.
Monday van Garderen raced up the Col du Béal with most of his Tour de France rivals, but the 25-year-old American slipped behind stage winner Chris Froome (Sky) by two minutes, 38 seconds. It put him in 26th overall. The team, though, said that van Garderen is still looking to get back on top of his game.
“It’s nothing. It was a hard stage, 40°C [104°F], he lost time, but I prefer that he gets that result than a top five,” Ledanois said. “For me, his last race was País Vasco. After he crashed in Romandie, he continued but it wasn’t a race because he had problems. So his last race was two months ago. The result Monday wasn’t a bad result, it’s a good result considering. We have time to work and recover for the Tour.”
Earlier in the season, van Garderen placed second overall to Chris Froome (Sky) at the Tour of Oman, in February; in late March, he placed third overall at Volta a Catalunya, with a summit-finish stage win ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Van Garderen, who placed fifth overall and won the best young rider competition two years ago, has three and half weeks until the Tour kicks off in Leeds, England. And he has even more time until the Tour finishes its first stage at altitude, July 14 at La Planche des Belles Filles.
“You can’t expect him to get up there right now in the Dauphiné,” sports director, Max Sciandri said. “If we want the result today or tomorrow, it’s not going to happen.
“People expect to see Tejay up there right now, but realistically, it’s two and half months that he hasn’t raced. He’s trained really well but he’s missing that top end and struggling a little bit, but this is a building process towards the Tour. This is a perfect race for building up, to assemble the team and to pull the riders together.”
This weekend, in the Alpine mountain stages Saturday or Sunday, Sciandri said that van Garderen could try to have a “blow-out” to test himself. Ledanois agreed.
“It’s important that he goes fast, 100 percent,” said Ledanois. “One good test with the leaders, Froome and Contador, after six days. The first day is totally different, but after three or four days, things are evened out. His morale is good, so, if he has the legs, then why not?”
Both sports directors said, however, that van Garderen does not need the confirmation. No matter what happens this week in the country’s southeast, they said they feel he is on the right path for the sport’s main event in July.