American Tejay van Garderen is gaining valuable experience at the Tour de France as BMC leader whilst former race winner and team-mate Cadel Evans considers his future with the lucrative WorldTour outfit.
Evans realised a long-standing goal with the team winning the maillot jaune at the 2011 edition just a year after signing with what was then a Pro Continental squad.
However, the 37-year-old Australian was not selected for the Tour this season with BMC opting for van Garderen. Van Garderen extended his contract with the team in 2012 with this year’s opportunity serving as incentive.
“October we decided the programme that Cadel was going to be riding the Giro and I was going to be leading the Tour,” he said. “I pretty much had the whole year from then on knowing that this my focus.”
Off-contract Evans raced the Giro d’Italia in May, in which he finished eighth and had a stint in the maglia rosa, at the team’s request and is due to compete at the Vuelta a Espana in support of Samuel Sanchez. He has been in Australia this month promoting a new one-day race named in his honour.
“Cadel is evaluating his season next year at the moment,” BMC manager Jim Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly. “Whether he is going to continue or not continue that’s Cadel’s decision to make in the coming months. We know he is doing the Tour of Utah and the Vuelta and the World Championships so I’m going to see him in Utah and at the Vuelta. We’ve already started some dialogue about next year and what that might be or not. No decisions have been made.
“We’ve talked about some possibilities, some scenarios, that might work for everybody,” he continued.
Van Garderen cracked under the pressure of a relentless Movistar offence in the first day of competition in the Pyrenees yesterday and currently sits in sixth place – nine minutes and 25 seconds adrift of race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Whether the 25-year-old holds post as Tour leader beyond this season remains to be seen.
“He’s the leader right now,” Ochowicz said. “We can’t evaluate his overall performance until the race is over. It’s a learning curve he’s going through right now. He’s done Grand Tours before but never as a leader so he’s managing the expectations of his riders in the team plus his reactions. The way he manages his time and efforts, not just on the bike but off the bike, affect the 25 staff members, so indirectly he’s managing the whole group. We’re assisting in the places where we have to help to facilitate what he has to get done.”
Ochowicz said team goals had not shifted despite the loss of riders and van Garderen’s current position, which he may be able to improve with two more days in the Pyrenees and a long time trial to come before the peloton reaches Paris.
“We came in thinking we’d like to get a stage and we’ve come close a few times,” Ochowicz said.
“We’re not putting a number on Tejay’s finishing position. There’s no real definitive number on how to finish this race but everyday doing a good job.”