Tejay van Garderen has defended his decision to accept the help of Lance Armstrong, claiming if you were to take away everyone in cycling with a tainted history, there would be very few people left.
The 26-year-old American courted controversy in November 2014 when it was revealed he was being motorpaced by Armstrong in his home town of Aspen, Colorado.
>> Save up to 31% with a magazine subscription. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
But van Garderen says that while he’s not trained with the 1993 World Champion since, he was more concerned about his training than the negative headlines that would come out of the partnership.
“I’ve not really done any motorpacing with Lance since [November],” he told reporters ahead of the Tour de France. “Not because of any worries about what people might think, but he has kids who go to school in Texas, so most of the year he’s in Austin.
“We happen to run into each other every now and again if we’re both in Aspen, but it’s rare.
“As far as what I was doing with him – we are both top level cyclists, former and current, living in a very small town. It’s hard to avoid each other, so to avoid an awkward situation we’d chat and go for a ride every now and then.
“He offered to motorpace me when my usual pacer was out of town and I didn’t see any harm in it. He told me there was a camera crew coming and that I could duck out if I wanted, but I was more interested in my training.”
Van Garderen admits he knew the collaboration with Armstrong, who had his seven Tour de France titles stripped after the USADA investigation into him, would cause controversy, but maintains that the Texan shouldn’t be made a scapegoat.
The BMC rider cites many other figures still in the sport with chequered pasts, and questions why Armstrong is treated differently to the likes of Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov.
“I don’t think it sends the wrong message as there’s plenty of people in the sport who have dodgy pasts and admitted it,” he added.
“If you want to take away every single person who’s ever done anything in the past you’re basically getting rid of everyone.
“Vinokourov has a team, lots of the sports directors out there [have doped], George Hincapie has a Gran Fondo and a development team, Jonathan Vaughters runs a team. To have that double standard isn’t very fair, so I didn’t think anything of training with Lance.
“Just because Lance was the most successful cyclist it doesn’t make what he did any more wrong than what those other guys did.”
Cycling Weekly’s experts discuss the 2015 Tour de France Grand Départ