Tejay van Garderen takes white jersey, but shows the legs for yellow

Tejay van Garderen is tired of white jerseys. Someday he'd like to chase yellow. And on Monday, he showed the strength to do it

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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BESANCON, France (VN) — Tejay van Garderen has said he’s sick of claiming white jerseys — what he really wants is to win a GC.

The Tour’s white jersey is the exception, he conceded. Still, he has said he’s here to work for Cadel Evans, that the fight to bring Evans to Paris in yellow takes top priority.

So, on a day when the young BMC rider was alone on the road, in a race against the clock but ultimately performing reconnaissance for his boss, we saw what was inside of him — a performance that was good enough for white on Monday, and maybe good enough for his own yellow someday.

“Mainly what [Cadel and I] talked about was not taking risks,” van Garderen said. “I told him, ‘I’m just going to go hard but I’ll just try to keep it a regular tempo to not go too over the edge.’ I had to promise Cadel I wouldn’t crash.

“Mainly it was just about being conservative. They told me I was doing really good splits, so it wasn’t until the second half that I really started to ramp it up. It’s come as a big surprise, but this [is] the top time trial of my life.”

Good for fourth on the day, his best put a scare into the mighty Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan). Van Garderen topped the Swiss at both time checks and eventually finished only nine seconds down to the four-time world time trial champion.

He found himself sitting second in the Tour’s first big time trial — only to see the dynamic duo from Sky, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins, scorch the field and finish one-two.

Van Garderen finished 1:06 off Wiggins’ pace. His reward? Another white jersey.

Though most 23-year-old pros might be happy with a slew of jersey-winning performances, van Garderen has had enough.

At last year’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, van Garderen was visibly frustrated to settle for white when Levi Leipheimer undid his efforts to take yellow. But the Tour is different; the Tour is special. He said that just two days ago. Even more, his mission is different here.

“I had kind of a bad day that first uphill finish; I was just a little nervous in a big fight and I kind of lost [the white jersey] there. But we just had the guys rally and say, ‘Look, it’s a long two weeks. It’s not the main goal anyways.’”

True, the main goal is bringing Cadel safely to Paris in yellow, a job that has just become much more difficult thanks to Wiggins’ blistering day. He needn’t worry. The experience will be invaluable when van Garderen goes after his own goal: taking yellow for himself.

Meanwhile, he has another white jersey for his collection. He now sits 42 seconds ahead of Estonia’s Rein Taarmäe (Cofidis).

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