American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), winner of the Giro d’Italia‘s Dolomite stage to Ortisei on Thursday, refuses to give up on racing for classification in Grand Tours despite some recent hard times.
Van Garderen began the Giro for the first time after recent Tour de France disappointments as the team’s overall classification leader.
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However, he slipped away as soon as the road tilted upwards. Stage 18’s win from an escape group, climbing over three passes over 2000 metres, rejuvenated his hopes.
“I’m going to try again for the GC in a Grand Tour,” van Garderen said.
“This is definitely a good feeling, but I know I can do a GC in a Grand Tour. I’ve done it before, there’s no reason I can’t do it again.”
The 28-year-old from Colorado placed fifth in the Tour de France early in his career with BMC in 2012.
He also took home the white jersey of best young rider that year and placed fifth again in 2014. Since, he has bad luck or bad legs.
“These past years haven’t gone my way, but I’m going to try to get it back on track and fight again another day,” van Garderen added.
“It feels good for me [to win a stage], it’s good to know that I’m still capable of doing a ride like that. Now, I have to just put it all together over three weeks like I’ve done in the past, like I know I can do again.”
Van Garderen says that he plans on riding the Vuelta a España later this summer, but not the Tour. He crashed and abandoned the 2015 Spanish tour and in 2016, abandoned “due to fatigue.”
The team suggested this year that he refocuses on the Giro. Australian Richie Porte will lead the team in the Tour de France.
The stage win was his first in a Grand Tour and the first for a US cyclist since Chris Horner won two stages en route to the 2013 Vuelta a España overall title.
Van Garderen escaped early on in a group that included three Team Sky riders. He and Sky’s Landa edged away on the final descent and rode together to Ortisei, where van Garderen sprinted ahead.
“What happened over past two weeks? That’s a good question. I am going to try to figure that out over the next few weeks,” he added.
“It’s incredible to win. I came here with GC ambitions, and that didn’t materialise, but I tried to keep the morale high. I’m eight years professional, first Grand Tour stage victory.
“It’s emotional because I’ve had so many trials the past few years. Sometimes things go up, sometimes things go down. Today was definitely [up], and hopefully we can keep that trajectory.”