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AX-3 DOMAINES, France (VN) — Tejay van Garderen (BMC) won’t be returning to the winner’s podium in this year’s Tour de France.
Last year’s white jersey winner succumbed to heat in Saturday’s first mountain stage of the 2013 Tour, dropping to 44th on GC at 12:38 back.
“The heat really started getting to me, which was strange, because I’ve done a lot to prepare for the heat, with the sauna, with racing in California and San Luis. I didn’t think it would be an issue, but for some reason it really seemed to affect me,” van Garderen said.
“I just didn’t have the power. I got a little bit of chills. I wasn’t massively dehydrated. I felt like my normal self, minus 30 percent. You cannot miss that 30 percent at the Tour.”
Van Garderen became unglued on the Pailhères climb just as Team Sky was starting to up the tempo. He lost contact midway up the hors-categorie climb and never made it back.
Fifth overall last year, van Garderen saw his GC hopes sink as he crossed the line 56th at 12:15.
The Amgen Tour of California winner said the team must try to turn the page as quickly as possible to refocus for the remainder of the Tour. BMC captain Cadel Evans also struggled, slipping to 26th at 4:13 back.
“You just have to keep the morale high, and take something out of the Tour,” he said. “We still have a strong, motivated team; try to win some stages, try to get Cadel up there in the top 10.”
Van Garderen’s woes means the fight for the white jersey could come down to a battle between Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp).
Quintana moved into the white jersey on Saturday, taking over from Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who dropped to third at 1:23 back. Talansky rode well, climbing into second in the white jersey race, now 46 seconds behind the Colombian.
“We were all suffering, but I managed to get over the top [of the Pailhères], which a lot of guys cannot say,” Talansky said. “When we got to the final climb, I knew it would be a time trial. Dan [Martin] was there and we rode up together.”
Talansky started the Tour without setting the white jersey as a target, but it could quickly become one as the Tour rolls on.
In contrast, Quintana has targeted the white jersey right from the gun, and will race with one eye on Talansky.
Quintana was impressive, with a solo attack across the Pailhères summit to carve out a 56-second lead on the main GC pack.
“Today I grabbed the white jersey, another good objective for me. I hope to keep it all the way to Paris,” he said. “The legs felt good today during this first mountain stage. We are going to keep fighting to try to win a stage.”
The white jersey battle should become one of the more interesting storylines during this Tour.