Van Garderen believes he’s in the perfect position to win Tour of California
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Van Garderen believes he’s in the perfect position to win Tour of California

by Shane Stokes at 6:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
 
“The heat was unlike anything I have ever experienced”

Tejay van GarderenBMC Racing Team rider Tejay van Garderen may have had to settle for second place on yesterday’s tough stage to Palm Springs, ending the day second overall, but despite now being twelve seconds behind the winner Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Jamis - Hagens Berman) he’s bullish about his chances.

Van Garderen was clear before the start of the eight day event that he was gunning for the overall victory and he believes he’s on track.

“Right now I think we are in the perfect position to relax for the next couple of days and then try to take the jersey in the time trial,” he said after the finish.

The 24 year old American has many strong performances in his career, including taking the best young rider award in the Tour of California, Paris-Nice and the Tour de France, plus also placing fifth overall in last year’s Tour. However he has few professional wins and is yet to take a major stage race. That could well change this week if he can pull out a strong time trial, although he will still have to climb well on the subsequent Mount Diablo stage.

Van Garderen received strong assistance from Mathias Frank, who set a tempo which prevented Irishman Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) from gaining too much ground after an attack on the final climb. That tempo also helped shell several of van Garderen’s GC rivals, and ensured he was fresh enough to initially go with Azevedo when he attacked for the stage win.

Van Garderen described the stage as the hottest day’s racing he had ever done. “The heat was unlike anything I have ever experienced,” he said. “I have raced in some hot conditions but this was by far the worst. It was jut a hard stage all around, and that climb…”

The temperature influenced his tactics, with van Garderen opting to be conservative in his efforts. “I was just trying to stay as relaxed as possible because in this heat if you go into the red zone one time, sometimes you can't recover,” he explained. “So I just tried staying as calm as possible, which is easy when you have a team as strong as ours to follow their wheels."

He upped the tempo as the climb pitched upwards towards the end. “I was expecting it,” he said, referring to the steep section. “I had studied up on it. I saw that Mick Rogers was starting to suffer a little bit so I set a good tempo. I just wanted to distance myself from the other time trailers in the race.

“Azevedo was on my wheel, taking advantage of me wanting to set a hard tempo. He got a bit of a jump on me and in this heat, I was thinking ‘ah, if I go to the limit I might blow up.’ So it was better just to stay at my tempo. He got the stage and that is good for him, but I think I am in the perfect position to win the race overall now.”

The next three stages look like finishing in big groups, and so the likely next decider for the overall will be Friday’s time trial. The 31.9 kilometre San Jose test could give van Garderen the perfect opportunity to seize yellow, but the following day’s race to the top of Mount Diablo will be crucially important too.

Right now, though, van Garderen his happy to wait and bide his time, believing that he is in the perfect position to push for what would be the biggest win thus far of his career.

His directeur sportif John Lelangue agrees. “Taking time on some really good time trialists is already a really big success. From a team perspective, we did what we had to do,” he said. “We are in the position where we wanted to be on the day.”

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