Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) has revealed he is set to play a support role for team-mate Rigoberto Uran at this year’s Tour de France.
“I was pleased to have everything just come together and feel like I had good form in California,” van Garderen said, “but I had bad luck with the crash which affected me a bit in the closing days and I couldn’t quite close it out.
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“So to finally do that at the Dauphiné, I was able to capitalise on some good form.”
The former Tour de France white jersey winner has made his mark on new team EF Education First, which he moved to from the now defunct BMC team last year.
“It’s been tremendous, I’ve enjoyed all the riders and all the staff. It’s a lot different from BMC but at the end of the day the goals and the missions are the same and that is to get out there and win bike races,” the American said.
Despite a stirring performance at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné where he finished second, 20 seconds down on Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), the American will have to play second fiddle and support Rigoberto Uran who will be the team’s designated leader.
“We have a lot of faith in him [Uran] and believe he can have a good ride. But we are going to have multiple goals going into the Tour,” van Garderen said.
“The first one being the stage two team time trial and then Michael Woods is really good at jumping in breakaways and racing really aggressively. I think he showed last year at the Vuelta a España that he can win a big summit finish from the breakaway but also offer really good climbing support for Rigo.”
Rigoberto Uran finished second to Chris Froome (Ineos) at the 2017 Tour de France by only 54 seconds, his highest ever placing in the French Grand Tour. The Colombian also finished runner up at the Giro d’Italia for two consecutive years, in 2013 and 2014.
Van Garderen continued: “There will be opportunities for everyone at the Tour with the main goal being placing Rigo as high as we can. The one thing that is always predictable about the Tour is how unpredictable it is, you’ve got to be ready for all scenarios and just adapt. I think we are lucky to have a team as we do and a leader as strong as Rigo.”
Currently based at altitude in Andorra, van Garderen will head to Girona in the coming days to link up with his EF Education First team-mates for a team time trial camp, a major early target for the team.
“We definitely have the riders, equipment and the motivation to pull out a good one, which will certainly put us in the hunt and anything can happen on the day,” van Garderen said, “so we just have to go with the idea that we have the chance to win and then if we can win then that would start the Tour off on such a positive note and get the ball rolling.”