Van Garderen keeps things in perspective after prologue time loss, says gaps are minute
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Van Garderen keeps things in perspective after prologue time loss, says gaps are minute

by VeloNation Press at 8:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
American rider seen as legitimate contender for overall victory

Tejay van GarderenHis team has made clear that is goal is to win Paris-Nice, but Tejay van Garderen had an unscheduled time loss yesterday when he placed 59th in the opening prologue of the race. The American rider was further back than he had hoped in the very technical 2.9 kilometre race around the streets of Houilles, conceding eleven seconds to the surprise winner Damien Gaudin (Europcar) and dropping ten to last year’s overall runner-up, Lieuwe Westra.

“Prologues are a funny thing,” he said afterwards. “Sometimes you have a good one, sometimes you have a bad one. I'm glad it wasn't a complete disaster, but I would have liked to have done better.”

However the American rider is by no means dismissing his chances. “There's a long ways until we get to Nice and this is a handful of seconds. Some big time will be lost in the upcoming stages.”

Van Garderen is seen as one of the most promising young riders in the peloton, as evidenced by his fifth place overall in last year’s Tour de France at just 24 years of age, as well as his third place overall in the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné at 22. His talent is clear and, as he matures, he knows it is time to start racking up some big wins.

Last year he was fifth overall in Paris-Nice and he has pinpointed the race as a very big early season target.

“It's an important one. It's a good goal,” he said prior to the start. “I'd love to do well. I'd love to go a little higher. Maybe on the podium… There's still some good competition here. Lieuwe Westra, who was second last year, is back and Talansky will be hard to beat along with a few other guys, Gesink, Kloeden, so it's not going to be an easy race. But I feel good with where I'm at, and I'm going to give it my best shot.”

Van Garderen performed strongly early this season when he was second overall in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. He’s been working hard since then and his intention to challenge in Paris-Nice is reflected by the fact that he recently did a reconnoitre of the Col d’Eze, where the final day time trial will be held.

“I raced it last year and I was doing some testing figuring out what equipment to use,” he explained. “Our team did a good job with our performance directors to figure out what equipment is going to be the best, and so now that gives me more confidence going into it that we're making the right choices.”

Last year Bradley Wiggins won the final time trial and sealed his overall classification win in the race. However in the past the final jersey has changed in the uphill race against the clock, and van Garderen knows that it could well be decisive for the overall standings. For that reason, he wants to be as ready as is possible for that concluding test.

“Anything can decide this race, that's the thing with Paris-Nice,” he said. “If you get a day into crosswinds like last year when you had twenty guys going away and if you were not in that group, then you were not going to win. Then you have the Col d'Eze time trial, the Montagne de Lure. Any day of this race can be crucial.”

His goal today will be to stay out of trouble and to ensure that he isn’t caught out by any echolons or crashes. If the opportunity arises, he’ll seize it and thus try to get back some of the time he dropped yesterday. But, as he says, twelve seconds is but a sliver of the time gaps that will be in place at the end of the race.

Few if any expect Gaudin to be challenging for the final victory, and so van Garderen will have his eyes firmly fixed on the known GC contenders and on trying to get ahead of them whenever the opportunity presents itself.

One thing which very much plays in his favour is the all round ability of the BMC Racing Team. He has riders such as world champion Philippe Gilbert by his side and knows that this kind of support could make a crucial difference.

“To have such a strong team makes my life easier. I can go into the days like the nervous days in the wind far more relaxed because we have so many guys with so much experience able to handle themselves on those hectic days,” he said. “It takes the pressure off a little bit because this team's already got three wins this year, so it's not like the pressure is on me or Cadel or Philippe to deliver the results because we have won races already. Brent Bookwalter has won a race already.”


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