Tejay Van Garderen Video Interview: I think I can win the Tour of California
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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tejay Van Garderen Video Interview: I think I can win the Tour of California

by Shane Stokes at 6:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour of California, Video
 
Talented 22 year old American aiming high

Tejay Van GarderenAs the Amgen Tour of California approaches, prodigiously talented HTC Highroad rider Tejay Van Garderen has laid out a clear target for himself: the top step of the podium in the country’s most prestigious cycling event.

“I think I can win. That is going to be my goal going into the race, I want the victory” he told VeloNation in a video interview conducted recently. “I am not under any illusions of grandeur, [believing] that I am going to just run away with it, that I am just going to drop Levi, drop Horner, to leave them for dust.

“But the goal is to win. I know it is going to be hard, but I am shooting high.”

Van Garderen was speaking to VeloNation at an at-times noisy team hotel in the run-up to Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Relaxed in himself but also very ambitious, he came across as older than his 22 years, and also content with the progress he has made.

He’s got every right to be; second overall in the 2009 Tour de l’Avenir, he made a leap in standard last year during his pro debut with HTC Highroad. He showed he could cope with the higher standard when he finished ninth in the Volta ao Algarve, then took second overall in the Presidential Tour of Turkey. The big breakthrough was the Criterium du Dauphiné [pictured above], where he sped to second behind Alberto Contador (Astana) in the prologue, rode strongly in the mountains, and ended the historic race a brilliant third overall.

Beaten only by Janez Brajkovic (Team RadioShack) and Contador, both of whom were gearing up for the Tour de France, the-then 21 year old posted a clear sign that he should have a very big future ahead.

Taking things step by step:

From that point on, it’s all about building strength and endurance for what he – and many others – hope will be a strong tilt at Tour de France titles. The most important thing is to build gradually and, guided by the HTC Highroad team and others, he’s been doing just that.

Van Garderen made his Grand Tour debut in the Vuelta a España, a race which he said has handed him clear benefits in terms of his development and recovery. This year, he got things off to a fine start when he finished second overall behind team-mate Tony Martin in the Volta ao Algarve.

Aiming for victory in California is the next step. “It is going to be a hard race,” he said. “I haven’t really studied the route too much in detail, but it is going to be hard with the two summit finishes and the long time trial. There are four days right around 200 kilometres and one day is around 220. It is going to be long, it is going to be hard.

“I am looking forward to it…it is going to be a big goal.”

Beyond that, riding his first Tour de France is also on his wishlist for 2011. The American race could play a big part in his chances of that, depending on how it goes, but he prefers not to see target A as being linked to target B. “The goal in California is to win, not to get a place in the Tour,” he said, emphasising that victory there is what he is most concerned with right now.

“If that grants me a place in the Tour, that is great. But I don’t think it comes down to how well I perform…I think it comes down to what kind of team they want to field. If they want to field eight guys around Cavendish, then I don’t know how well I fit in there. But the fact that Peter Velits and Tony Martin are both going to go for GC…the team may want another climber. The team time trial plays in my favour, I think.”


See the video below for the full interview with Van Garderen.
 

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