Van Garderen happy but aware of battles ahead

Race leader Chris Froome calls Tejay van Garderen a man to watch, but the BMC captain says Paris is a long way off yet

Photo: TDW

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PLUMELEC, France — Tejay van Garderen was delighted that his BMC Racing squad won Sunday’s team time trial by a single second over Team Sky, but stopped short of calling himself a favorite for the overall victory in the Tour de France.

“It’s an incredible feeling. So far the team in the first week has been incredible. We’ve passed every test with flying colors,” said the 26-year-old American, who was fifth overall in 2012 and last year.

“It’s given me a lot of morale going into the mountains and given the team a lot of morale to see me high up there on GC. Everything’s clicking and it’s all about momentum. I feel we’ve really gained a lot of momentum this week.”

BMC’s victory in the 28km team time trial took van Garderen up to second overall at just 12 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome, and the Sky captain said afterward that his American rival should now be considered one of the favorites for the final victory in Paris.

“Tejay, I’ve said from the beginning of the race, is definitely someone to look out for, given also at the Dauphiné he was up there in the climbs, so we can expect something similar here,” said Froome.

Still, van Garderen scoffed at the idea of winning the Tour.

“That’s a tall order,” he said. “First we have to get to the Pyrenees. The Pyrenees are going to be the test of who’s fit enough to win the Tour, and the Alps, who’s got the stamina to make it to the end.

“We’ve definitely passed the first phase of the Tour well. But we’re really not going to know till the third week who has the depth to hold it … the Tour’s a marathon and we’re not even close to the end.”

The three-week race enjoys its first rest day Monday before resuming with a 167km mountain stage Tuesday, and BMC sport director Yvon Ledanois is optimistic.

“We have not had any problems and we have not had any big crashes,” said Ledanois. “Tomorrow is recovery for everybody and the team will be ready for the Pyrenees. For sure, Tejay is ready for the mountains.”

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