Van Garderen: “I froze up”

American Tejay van Garderen lost two minutes on Thursday's final climb after enduring cold and rain.

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American rider Tejay van Garderen’s chances at the Tour de Suisse overall suffered a major blow during Thursday’s final climb to Amden. The BMC team captain was dropped by the GC favorites near the base of the climb, and he finished nearly two minutes down on race leader Wilco Kelderman (Lotto-Jumbo).

The peloton endured brisk weather and constant rainfall during the 162.8km stage, and van Garderen blamed his performance on the cold.

“I used to be a specialist in cold and miserable days and now I seem to struggle more than others when it comes to the cold,” van Garderen said. “To be honest, it’s the only thing I can put my finger on.”

Van Garderen said he is in good form, however he simply “froze up” at the summit of the 1,950-meter (6,400-foot) high Klausenpass.

“I don’t know if there is anything else I can attribute it to,” he said. “It was generally a pretty bad day for a lot of guys and the fact that I wasn’t the only GC guy dropped shows that I wasn’t the only one suffering.”

Michele Scarponi (Astana), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r), and Geraint Thomas (Sky) all lost contact with the front group on the final climb.

Van Garderen was paced to the finish line by his teammate Darwin Atapuma, who won Wednesday’s stage after riding in the breakaway. Van Garderen finished in 28th place, 6:22 down on stage winner Pieter Weening. He now sits in 13th place in the overall, 2:09  behind Kelderman.

BMC Directeur Sportif Fabio Baldato said the team worked to set up van Garderen on the final climb.

“At the bottom of the final climb we told [Atapuma] to go full gas and try to bring the gap down,” Baldato said. “Yesterday Tejay was feeling super strong so we really wanted to go hard today and see what could happen.”

Van Garderen is using the Tour de Suisse as a warmup race for the Tour de France. He is slated to share BMC leadership duties with Australian Richie Porte at the Tour. Porte recently finished fourth at theCritérium du Dauphiné.

When it comes to the Tour de France you can’t have any weaknesses no matter what the weather is like,” van Garderen said.

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