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PLATEAU DE BEILLE, France (VN) — Tejay Van Garderen will join BMC Racing beginning in 2012. A source confirmed Friday that the 22-year-old has signed a three-year contract to join the American squad at the close of the year.
Van Garderen is widely regarded as a future grand-tour podium contender, perhaps the top U.S. prospect of his generation. He broke through in 2010 when he rode to third in the Critérium du Dauphiné behind Jani Brajkovic and Alberto Contador. This year he finished second, to Contador, at the Vuelta ao Algarve, won the best young rider competition at the Tour of California and was runner-up to world champion Fabian Cancellara in the Tour de Suisse prologue.
He finished his first grand tour at the Vuelta a España last September, holding a top-10 position until a stomach bug affected him in the final week.
Van Garderen’s neo-pro contract with HTC was rumored to pay less than 100,000 euro per year and he is expected to more than triple that with BMC. HTC boss Bob Stapleton has openly discussed his difficulty in securing a new title sponsor for the world’s winningest team and set a deadline of Monday, July 18, to inform riders and media of his intentions beyond 2011.
A number of top-shelf squads, including RadioShack, courted Van Garderen for his second pro contract, but with a long-term sponsor and a big-time budget, Jim Ochowicz’s squad won the bidding.
Ochowicz, BMC Racing president, would not confirm the signing Thursday.
“We don’t comment on the comings and goings of riders until certain deadlines pass or the riders announce it,” he said.
The UCI maintains an August 1 deadline for teams and riders to discuss contract negotiations. Van Garderen refused to comment as well, telling the UK’s Cycling Weekly that he was “waiting for an announcement from Bob [Stapleton] and then [will] be able to say more.”
Van Garderen is riding in his first Tour de France, where he has supported GC contenders Tony Martin and Peter Velits. With Martin, who L’Equipe reported Thursday was in discussions with Bjarne Riis to join Saxo Bank-Sungard, and Velits losing time on Wednesday, Van Garderen will be free to chase stages in the Alps next week.
BMC Racing is one of four American ProTeams and with the squad Van Garderen should join former world champion Cadel Evans and fellow Lucca, Italy, based American Taylor Phinney.