Van Garderen upbeat about his chances after taking over USA Pro Challenge lead
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Van Garderen upbeat about his chances after taking over USA Pro Challenge lead

by VeloNation Press at 8:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
BMC Racing Team rider promises to remain focussed, aiming for strong time trial

Tejay van GarderenHaving taken over the race lead in the USA Pro Challenge with a strong ride on yesterday’s mountain stage to Beaver Creek, Tejay van Garderen knows he has moved a significant step closer towards his goal of winning the race overall.

The BMC Racing Team rider holds a four second advantage over his team-mate Mathias Frank, but has a bigger thirty second gap on yesterday’s stage winner, Janier Alexis Acevedo (Jamis Hagens Berman). Tom Danielson, who previously was seen as his likely biggest rival, lost time yesterday and has slipped to forty seconds behind.

The result puts van Garderen in a strong position, but even though he’s expected to gain further time against the clock today, he’s wary about thinking the race is in the bag.

“It means everything,” he said about taking yellow. “Right now I have a pretty comfortable margin. I made the mistake in the past of getting a little too confident so right now I will just focus on a good TT.”

As expected, the big showdown happened on the two climbs close to the finish, Bachelor Gulch and the final climb to the line. Danielson was strong and determined on the first, leading most of the way up the climb and trying to burn off the opposition as he had done en route to winning the Tour of Utah.

However van Garderen was unflappable, sitting on the Garmin-Sharp rider’s wheel, with Acevedo also able to go over the summit with them.

“I’m not going to say it was easy but I never felt under pressure, especially because my team was so incredible,” said van Garderen. “Matthias was there, we had Larry [Warbasse] pulling up there after he dropped back from the break. I felt comfortable the whole time.

“The biggest challenge was the bottom of Bachelor Gulch. It was an insanely hard tempo. Another challenge was making those tricky decisions. We had to decide who throughout the day was going to work. We had Tony Gallopin in the break at the beginning of the day with ten other guys. We had a teammate up there, but our teammate was down on time.

“We had to decide whether or not to chase our teammate or rely on Garmin to pull. It was a strong break that had a pretty decent gap at one point. From a tactic standpoint, it just got tricky as to what to do throughout the day.”

Van Garderen said that he anticipated the surge by Danielson’s team. Riders such as Dave Zabriskie, last year’s race winner Christian Vande Velde and the overall leader Lachlan Morton all drove the pace to make things difficult for the riders in the group, and to try to set things up for a surge by their own leader.

“I think Garmin’s goal was to make it hard up the climb to try and drop me. They did a good job and they definitely whittled the field down to nothing, but I think they underestimated me and my team a little bit,” said van Garderen.

Danielson was strong, but not strong enough to go solo. But even if he had, it’s likely he would have been brought back. Van Garderen and Acevedo were simply better when it came to the wet downhill between the two climbs.

“After the first corner it looked like Danielson was a little timid,” van Garderen said. “Acevedeo looked like he was pretty confident on the corners so I was like, ‘let’s go.’”

Asked what made the difference on the descent, he said it was two factors. “For one, it’s mainly about skill. You want to avoid touching your front brake because if you do that on corners you’re going to slide out,” he explained. “Secondly, we are racing with Continental tires and those handle very well on wet surfaces. Personally, I don’t think I’m that great going down a rainy descent, but those tires really help.

“I would think that Tom might be a little frustrated right now, but at the end of the day if you have a weakness in any area it’s going to show through. If you have the skill set that Janier and I have on a wet descent, you really have to just take advantage of that. It’s just part of the game.”

The time gained puts him in a good position heading into today’s 16.1 kilometre uphill time trial to Vail. He has a good advantage and wants to maintain that.

“It is just about staying calm and being really smart with the pacing strategy. Right now, having a good margin on Danielson, I just need to conserve the buffer rather than really going for it.”

However he’s equally aware that nothing is guaranteed and that there is a long way to go before the race is won. Past experience in the same race has taught him that.

“I’m really confident about the time trial, but nothing is ever given. I had a 35-second gap going into that time trial in 2011 and I lost it along with a further eleven seconds,” he said. “I learned not to be too confident and I’m going to have to keep my wits about me and pace myself. I’m going to go through the motions as how I would approach any other time trial, whether I had the yellow jersey or not.”

Van Garderen believes that he will have one advantage over the riders on other teams. “I’m going to go full TT set up...hopefully that’s not giving away any secrets,” he said. “I think some people would choose to go on a road bike, but BMC makes a light TT bike, so the advantages I gain from the aerodynamics of the TT bike means I don’t sacrifice too much in weight.”

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