Van Garderen impresses with prologue performance and wears white jersey today
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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Van Garderen impresses with prologue performance and wears white jersey today

by VeloNation Press at 8:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Tour de France, Cyclocross
Young American highlights talent again, says he’ll sacrifice his chances for Evans

Tejay Van GarderenIt’s very early days yet and he’s primarily in the Tour de France as backup for defending champion Cadel Evans, but yesterday’s strong display in the prologue time trial begins what could be a very good race for Tejay van Garderen.

The BMC Racing Team rider is regarded as one of the most talented of the next generation of American riders. While Taylor Phinney is seen as a rider who could become one of the very best time trialists in the sport and also win Classics like Paris-Roubaix, Van Garderen is very much a rider for the big stage races; able to both climb and time trial well, he will only get stronger over the next few years.

He underlined his talent two years ago with an impressive third overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné. He was beaten only by Janez Brajkovic and Alberto Contador in the race, with many big names behind him. That was an achievement in itself, but the fact that he was just 21 at the time was the real pointer to his potential.
Yesterday Van Garderen was nine places better than team leader Evans in the test, ending up with the fourth best time, ten seconds off Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Nissan).

Of the riders who can both time trial and climb in the high mountains, Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) was the only one ahead of him.

"It's an incredible feeling," the American said, talking about the atmosphere in Liège and how that psyched him up. "I haven't gotten the adrenaline going like that coming down the start ramp since I was a junior.”

The performance earned him the white jersey as best young rider in the race. It was the first time in many years for that to happen, but he nearly missed out as Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) was just one second further back.

“It's not often that I'm on the good side of a close call so I didn't think it was bound to happen,” he admitted. “I was a little worried about Boasson Hagen going into this but I'm definitely thrilled to take the white jersey.

“I worked really hard for a result like this and I think it really shows that my form is on schedule to do my job for the rest of the Tour.”

Van Garderen will wear that jersey on today’s first road stage to Seraing, an undulating and testing route which will finish atop a steep drag to the line. He won’t set out to protect the jersey, but envisages it potentially happening anyway. “If I can be up there with Cadel and help him out in the final then we should be able to stay ahead by just doing my job,” he said. “So I think I can hold the white jersey for another day.”

He made his Tour debut last year, finishing 81st overall after riding for Evans throughout. He said that he’ll concentrate on helping the Australian again this year rather than targeting his own best possible result in the general classification. However the three weeks ahead will also give him an opportunity to showcase his strength, even if he’s a protecting rider rather than a protected one.

“We have full confidence in Cadel again,” he said, explaining his commitment to the team. “He's had a bit of a struggle here and there this year but all in all, he has three wins under his belt and he's been on the podium at the Dauphiné.

“His form is coming in right on time. Cadel is flying right now and I think today I proved that I can be there to support him.”

Tour de France best young rider classification winners:

1975, Francesco Moser (ITA)
1976, Enrique Martinez-Heredia (ESP)
1977, Dietrich Thurau (GER)
1978, Henk Lubberding (NED)
1979, Jean-Rene Bernaudeau (FRA)
1980, Johan Van der Velde (NED)
1981, Peter Winnen (NED)
1982, Phil Anderson (AUS)
1983, Laurent Fignon (FRA)
1984, Greg LeMond (USA)
1985, Fabio Parra (COL)
1986, Andrew Hampsten (USA)
1987, Raúl Alcalá (MEX)
1988, Erik Breukink (NED)
1989, Fabrice Philipot (FRA)[5]
1990, Gilles Delion (FRA)
1991, Álvaro Mejía (COL)
1992, Eddy Bouwmans (NED)
1993, Antonio Martín Velasco (ESP)
1994, Marco Pantani (ITA)
1995, Marco Pantani (ITA)
1996, Jan Ullrich (GER)
1997, Jan Ullrich (GER)
1998, Jan Ullrich (GER)
1999, Benoît Salmon (FRA)
2000, Francisco Mancebo (ESP)
2001, Óscar Sevilla (ESP)
2002, Ivan Basso (ITA)
2003, Denis Menchov (RUS)
2004, Vladimir Karpets (RUS)
2005, Yaroslav Popovych (UKR)
2006, Damiano Cunego (ITA)
2007, Alberto Contador (ESP)
2008, Andy Schleck (LUX)
2009, Andy Schleck (LUX)
2010, Andy Schleck (LUX)
2011, Pierre Rolland (FRA)


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