Van Garderen back to racing, hunting Vuelta stage wins

After a disappointing Tour de France in July, Tejay van Garderen returns to racing at the Vuelta, targeting stage victories

Photo: TDW

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OURENSE, Spain (VN) — Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) returns to action in the Vuelta a España Saturday, and, after a “disappointing” Tour de France, he is aiming for stage wins.

America’s grand tour star failed to reach his best at the Tour in July and fight for the overall classification. The race, as well as time at home in Colorado, helped him to reconsider his Vuelta plans.

“To do two grand tours in one season, it’s a chance to feel the legs, feel the engine, to give me a bit more depth heading into the next season,” van Garderen said. “I don’t want to ride anonymously. I want to hunt for a stage win. It’s going to be an interesting race, different to what I’m used to.

“Last year, I was very disappointed with the Tour, I wanted revenge. I basically woke up on Monday morning and tried to go back in shape and be sharp, I was nervous and stressed — all the above. This year was another disappointing Tour, but I’m really just kind of like, ‘I don’t need to jump right back into it. Just rest up a little bit.’ I’m coming in more fresh but maybe not as sharp.”

The BMC squad will lead Spaniard Samuel Sánchez in the fight for the overall classification. Van Garderen, 28, will look for other opportunities.

He considered the new approach after “struggling” through the Tour de France. Van Garderen started as co-leader with Australian Richie Porte, but quickly saw his level was not the same. In 2012 and 2014, he placed fifth overall and last year, sat third overall before falling sick and quitting in the third week. Porte placed fifth this time around, and van Garderen took 29th behind winner Chris Froome (Sky).

Back home in Colorado, he reflected. He decided that when returned to Europe for the Vuelta a España, he would race differently.

“After the Tour I went home. It had been seven months away from home. I just went home, mentally recovered, physically recovered. I was getting on the bike but no real intensity, just riding for the fun of riding,” he added.

“So I’m coming here fresher but not as sharp and by the second or third week, I hope to really come good and go for the stage win.”

Last year, van Garderen wore the leader’s jersey one day after his team won the shortened opening time trial. But he did not stay long as he was one of several stars taken out by crashes. He suffered a fractured shoulder due to a fall in the eighth stage and pulled out.

This year, the race again starts with a team time trial, 27.8 kilometers around the river that passes by Ourense.

This Vuelta a España gives him another chance and an opportunity to end his season, which includes stage wins in the Tour de Suisse and the Ruta del Sol, on a high note. When he regroups with team manager Jim Ochowicz and the trainers this winter, he will consider 2017.

“We are always looking at it with the trainers, the coaches and the team to see if there is something we could change. If we keep on with the same approach and get the same results, it won’t be too smart of us. In the past I’ve had a couple of good Tours. Maybe we’ll try to focus on what I did on those years to prepare and try to go back to that,” he added.

“In the 2015 Tour, I was right up there with the best guys. This year, even from the beginning I was struggling on the bike until I just came apart altogether. I pushed it too hard with the diet, the training, and I paid the price in the third week.”

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