An impressive first week at the Tour de France sees the 26-year-old American insist he should be on an equal billing with Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali. With his performances so far, and his second place on GC, it's hard to disagree.

Waking up on the Tour’s first rest day in Pau sitting pretty in second place, Tejay van Garderen is now a genuine Tour de France contender. The young American hasn’t put a foot wrong through the opening nine stages and trails Sky’s Chris Froome by just 12 seconds.

Froome himself has said the BMC leader is currently his biggest rival, and van Garderen has admitted to being ‘irritated’ by his exclusion from The Big Four – the group of pre-race favourites that includes Froome, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana

Defending champion Nibali struggled on the Mur de Bretagne, while Quintana lost out in the crosswinds; all the while van Garderen was sitting at the front of the race perfectly protected by his team mates and matching Froome pedal stroke for pedal stroke, save the last few hundred metres on the Mur de Huy.

Bouyed by his performances in one of the toughest opening weeks in recent Tour history and victory in the team time trial, van Garderen is now showing the confidence to demand inclusion in the elite group.

“Those guys have that tag, The Fab Four, which is getting a little irritating hearing that. I’m not offended not to be named in that. All those guys in the Fab Four have won grand tours.” Van Garderen said.

“If I’m not spoken about as much as those guys are, I understand. That doesn’t mean I’m going to be intimidated by them, and [that] I’m not here to race against them or try to beat them,” he said. “The Backstreet Boys had five guys.”

Not that van Garderen is unproven at the Tour. At the age of 23 he finished fifth behind Bradley Wiggins in 2012 having initially gone to support defending champion Cadel Evans. He then equalled that result in 2014 behind Nibali.

However, van Garderen hasn’t won a grand tour, and has never won an individual stage. Meanwhile The Big Four have won 12 grand tours between them.

During the rest day in Pau today, the press attendance for the BMC conference filled just half the space that it had occupied for Froome three hours earlier. It seemed that even few American journalists – now deprived of a winner since 1990 – arrived to quiz van Garderen on his impressive ride so far. But according to the Colorado native, that’s the way he prefers it.

“It’s better to fly under the radar. I’m not offended,” he said. “We all started from zero when the Tour began in Utrecht.”

Van Garderen often refers to the Tour as a marathon. He said that while he would take opportunities, he would mostly let those further down, like Nibali and Quintana, attack in the Pyrenees.

“My strength is not being able to fly up the road and drop Contador and Quintana, it’s my consistency. I have the feeling they will have to jump and jump, but if can stay calm, I think my consistency will become a factor the third week,” he said.

“The real race is going to happen in the last week. You have to keep your powder dry until then, until La Toussuire or Alpe d’Huez.”

The Tour resumes on Tuesday with stage ten and the first of three mountain stages in the Pyrenees. The riders tackle 167km from Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, a stage that features three small fourth category climbs before the first summit finish at the top of the 15.3km Col de Soudet.

 

  • Craig Johnston

    Hiya, can you see me dancing? C’mon join me – I’m being smug in every way possible.

    Its always about the cycling! As I said, Capt Cheese has no team in the mountains!

    To coin a phrase – ‘where is your god now’!

    Oh and remember, the precursor to WW2 if you want to be pedantic…..The Pilgrims & The Mayflower…….Boooosh and Goodnight or should I say Auf Wieder hoeren!

  • J1

    Yeah, I didn’t mean to leave Pinot in there, he has no chance of winning, just like Teej.

    Allied forces means more than just the UK and the US, without all the countries fighting on the right side for us the outcome may have been different. The Americans forget about the times when other countries Armies saved them. Anyway this is a cycling website!

  • Craig Johnston

    Its irrelevant, if it wasn’t for bluelena69’s country we’d all be speaking German according to him – He needs to put his collection of first edition Marvel Comics down, and smell the coffee! Pinot has had a nightmare of a Tour. France would be better if I had the time to learn French 🙂

  • Craig Johnston

    Trolling ha ha, really matey, listen to yourself and grow a pair – sling your banjo and do one little person!

    In reply to your previous posts

    1. FYI I dont speak English – England isn’t my country – I do not class myself as British, I find that offensive and shows a lack of education!
    2. Ich spreche Deutsch, na und? Was ist los mit Deutsch? Ich liebe Deutschland, es it st viel besser wie Amerika!
    3. In reply to Americans and doping….Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and George Hincapie in addition to Mr Armstrong……
    4. I happen to enjoy Sky TV.

    Is that good enough for you? Are you really going to go down the ‘we won the war for you’ road as well? Hatred? – you cant even begin to comprehend hatred – just take a look outside your front door!

    This is about cycling not politics – I dont think the BMC Team are good enough, and I dont think that TVG is good enough to win. Are you trying to tell me that I have to like TVG? He does not have the support – Fact. Why go off on a ‘you hate Americans’ tirade? Toys out the pram because you’re not winning – pathetic

    I’m off to watch the tour, Vive Le Tour – Vive Le France…….I can update you on TVG progress if you like?

  • J1

    Maybe because you haven’t won anything?

    The race hasn’t even hit the mountains yet, GC position is irrelevant at the minute. I’d bet he’s nowhere near come the end. I reckon Péraud, Bardet and Pinot (if he ever stops crying) have the better chance of finishing near the top.

    That makes me sound French, I’m not French ha.

  • Craig Johnston

    They do don’t they?

  • Craig Johnston

    Stop for one second you total muppets! I never said I hated anyone! As for the Armstrong thing, he ruined so many people’s lives to get where he got to. He made people out to be liars, and the public believed him because he was Lance Armstrong. I just can’t be bothered with dopers full stop. It’s Bluelena69 that has wood for Armstrong – go bother them I’m going out on bike, then settling in to watch Capt Cheesy get destroyed by the Fantastic Four 😉

  • Stevie

    You speak as if all american cyclist dope……. yet its a trend that started in Europe. Pantani doped killing himself in the process so did Tommy Simpson do you hate both of those in equal measure too?

  • Rich

    …Voldemort…

  • bluelena69

    You aren’t deleting the other guys comments…

  • Craig Johnston

    Have you been drinking again?

  • Craig Johnston

    You must be American! Hatred? Pah – an overused word, and yes I think you must be the only person who likes Armstrong – with the exception of his dog.

  • bluelena69

    So why all of the hatred? If he didn’t have confidence, why should he even bother showing up? He’s actually paid to be confident and he owes at least that much it to his teammates.

    The Backstreet Boys have nothing to do with cycling. He was using them as a metaphor to illustrate the silliness of the “Big Four” obsession. In other words, he–rightfully–says that no, it didn’t bother him that he wasn’t included as a pre-race favorite and he goes as far to explain that he hasn’t yet accomplished things (i.e. Grand Tour wins) to place himself in the same class as the others. And he rightfully notes that this doesn’t mean he can’t try to change that…

    I think his comments make it quite clear that he is fully aware that this is a different race from the Dauphine. Did you even bother to read his comments or did you simply commence to hating without bothering with it?

  • Craig Johnston

    Really? – “The Backstreet Boys had five guys.”, wtf have they got to do with Cycling? – and That TvG, is why you shouldn’t be classed in the same group as ‘The Big Four’. Who makes comments like that? We will see on the big climbs when he is left on his own, after his ‘World Champion Time Triallists’ are dropped on the climbs. I think he forgets that the Dauphine was only 8 stages long!

  • Rich

    Voldemort…uh oh, I said it. Just as silly as not wanting to mention Lance Armstrong.