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Van Garderen rues lost Tirreno opportunity

PERUGIA, Italy (VN) — Tejay van Garderen’s lost opportunity to race stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico Sunday left him disappointed, says the BMC Racing team. Organizer RCS Sport canceled the queen stage Saturday evening for fear of snow and cold rain on the three mountain passes leading to the final summit finish on Monte San Vicino.

American van Garderen is using Tirreno-Adriatico as part of his buildup to the Tour de France, where he will co-lead the BMC squad with the team’s new signee Richie Porte. Porte finished third this week in the Paris-Nice, which had one of its stages cancelled midway due to snow.

When he arrived after a two-hour training ride in the grey 45°F valleys around Perugia, van Garderen preferred not to talk to waiting press. In his red cold-weather top, he left his bicycle near the bus and walked inside the Park Hotel.

“He was really disappointed, he was thinking of this stage,” sports director Valerio Piva told VeloNews. “He decided to come to Tirreno-Adriatico because of the team time trial and this stage, so he was really motivated to have a chance to fight for the GC. He didn’t say he’d win, but that he would have had a chance to test his condition to see where he is. He’s disappointed for that.”

After winning the team time trial with BMC on Wednesday, van Garderen stood a good chance to win the race overall. He sits nine seconds behind overall leader Zdenek Stybar (Etixx–Quick-Step) with a flat stage Monday and a 10.05-kilometer time trial to end the race Tuesday.

Dark clouds circled above the Apennine Mountains Sunday in Umbria and over into Marche, where the stage should have finished. However, as of Sunday afternoon, snow had yet to fall, only sitting on the side of the road in some parts. Rain fell at times with temperatures at 39°F.

“Of course, the weather changes fast. Even if it is not snowing, the road is still bad. If you go up to 1000 meters, then [it’s risky] with these conditions. If they took the decision, then that’s because it’s not possible,” Piva added.

“A last-minute plan would have been what we’ve seen before, starting the stage and stopping in the middle of the road with risk of heath problems for everyone. Tejay understands, of course, that we cannot ride in these conditions. He’s disappointed that he can’t show his condition and make a confrontation with the other favorites.”

Two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) posted photographs showing the lack of snow on the San Vicino climb this morning.

“Tejay was not happy because he wanted to test his condition and make his effort on the climb,” said BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet, who freely spoke to press after the training ride.

“I can understand him, he wanted to race, like everyone. But under the circumstances, I think they made the right decision to cancel before the stage instead of having to do it in the stage.”

All is not lost. Only nine seconds behind, both van Garderen and Van Avermaet have a chance at overhauling Stybar for the overall win Tuesday. Piva said that the favorite is Bob Jungels (Etixx–Quick-Step), who is 11 seconds behind his teammate.

“Tejay won the last time trial he did in the Ruta del Sol and so this has to give him confidence,” added Van Avermaet. “I think he’s in a good position to win Tirreno.”