Van Garderen gunning for Amgen Tour of California victory
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Van Garderen gunning for Amgen Tour of California victory

by Shane Stokes at 7:42 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
BMC Racing Team rider set for all out battle on Mt. Baldy stage

Tejay Van GarderenHaving jumped up to second overall in the race after his strong third place in yesterday’s time trial, Tejay Van Garderen has identified the main obstacles to his winning of the race, pinpointing the rivals that he must beat in order to take the yellow jersey into the final stage in Los Angeles.

The BMC Racing Team rider headed into today’s stage to Big Bear Lake 34 seconds behind time trial winner Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Barracuda), and five ahead of Robert Gesink (Rabobank). Andrew Talansky (Garmin - Barracuda) and Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) are both within a minute of yellow, while other dangerous riders such as Tom Danielson (Garmin Barracuda), Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) and Cameron Meyer (Orica GreenEdge) are also close by.

“Robert Gesink had a surprising ride,” said Van Garderen, speaking of the time trial. “He’ll be hard to control on Mt. Baldy because he’s one of the best climbers in the world. He’s obviously come back from his injury on a good level to be able to put in a time trial performance like that. Peter Velits is also going to be a hard guy to beat. And even Zabriskie, when he’s motivated, he can climb. It’s always hit and miss if he’s going to be motivated and he’s motivated right now.”

Zabriskie has pledged to fight with everything he has got to hold onto his race lead. He’s twice finished second in the race before and believes he’s in the form to be able to climb well.

Today’s race to Big Bear ended up not being that decisive; there was a big group sprint the last time the race visited there in 2010, and this time the general classification riders all finished together, 28 seconds behind the solo winner Sylvain Georges (Ag2r La Mondiale).

Van Garderen said before the stage that he believed that Saturday’s leg would be where the race was won or lost. “The real show down is going to be on Mt. Baldy,” he predicted.

He is conscious that three Garmin Barracuda riders are in the top seven overall, namely Zabriskie, Talansky and Danielson. He said that he hopes those riders will fight amongst themselves for the chance to take the race; he’s the clear BMC Racing Team leader and sees that as a plus, not a minus.

“The team is really confident in me and they’ve put a lot of faith in me. That definitely gives me a big morale boost. The Garmin people may be fighting each other for the top slot. It is a shame that Steve Cummings and Steve Morbito crashed out because they would have been key players for me on the climbing stages, but George [Hincape] is a climber when he wants to be, and I think he’s ready for the task. So he’ll pick up the slack from the missing Steves.”

Van Garderen’s most impressive result to date is his third place overall behind Janez Brajkovic and Alberto Contador in the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné. He achieved that at just 21 years of age, marking himself out as a possible future Grand Tour contender. Last year he was third in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and fifth in California.


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