Tour de France: Van Garderen steps forward as Evans slips back
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tour de France: Van Garderen steps forward as Evans slips back

by VeloNation Press at 8:41 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
American gets green light to ride own race

Tejay van GarderenIt was originally intended that Tejay van Garderen’s second Tour de France would see him serve an apprenticeship under Cadel Evans, learning from the 2011 Tour champion while also supporting him in his quest for a second title.

That’s how things played out for fifteen of the race’s twenty stages, but things changed completely today.

Evans started the day fourth overall, three places ahead of his team-mate, and three minutes 19 seconds off the race lead. His big goal was to take time out of the riders ahead of him, in particular race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) but, by the end of the day, he dropped to seventh overall. He’d had stomach problems and ran out of energy.

Meanwhile van Garderen was feeling good and finished in the first chase group behind Wiggins, Chris Froome (Sky Procycling) and Vincenzo Nibali. The latter trio gained 58 seconds, consolidating their podium positions. Van Garderen improved a place to sixth and by now being in the position as joint team leader, should have equal support on tomorrow’s final mountain stage.

“When Cadel was dropped the first time, it was kind of up to the other guys to hang around him as if I dropped back, maybe we could lose everything,” he said, explaining the green light he got to ride for his own chances. “We had the rest of the team rally around him, bring him back and hopefully it was just a bad moment and he could bounce back on the Peyresourde, But it was pretty evident that he was just on a bad day.”

Apart from improving his general classification position, the stage also consolidated his place at the head of the White Jersey young rider competition. He’s now three minutes 48 seconds ahead of FDJ BigMat rider Thibaut Pinot, and will look to hold or extend that tomorrow.

“I'm thrilled with how I'm riding and hopefully I can keep it going for one more day and then the time trial," van Garderen said. "I'm doing better than I could have ever imagined. It's just a pity that Cadel has fallen back a bit. But I can’t say I’m not happy with myself.”

Evans had pledged to fight as hard as he could on today’s stage. He found himself battling hard all right, but the foe was his stomach problem rather than his rivals.

“I didn't think it would affect me in the race but obviously that's not my normal level and it’s pretty much Tour de France over for me,” he admitted at the finish

"I don't know that I'm far enough back to be allowed the freedom to go in a breakaway. You have to be optimistic but you also have to be realistic. Obviously this year things haven't been coming together. The year's not over but certainly the retirement present I wanted to give to George Hincapie this year is…the hope and wish for that is gone.”

The latter refers to his pre-race statement that he wanted to win the race again and have Hincapie leading his Maillot Jaune-wearing leader onto the Champs Elysees for the start of the circuits there.

Depending on how things play out in the weeks ahead, the duo may have a chance to secure a different big victory at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Before then, though, the riders have four stages left in the Tour de France and will work to ensure the best possible results for the BMC Racing Team.


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