Chris Froome has challenged and pushed Tejay van Garderen to a new level ahead of the 2015 Tour de France, starting in Utrecht today. The American leader of BMC Racing tweaked his training after placing second in the Critérium du Dauphiné to Froome in order to be ready for the challenges at the Tour.
Van Garderen, fifth in last year's Tour, led the Dauphiné last month until the last day when Froome rode away. That race reminded him that he must improve his power to be able to handle those attacks.
Over the winter, and again after the Dauphiné to freshen up, BMC simulated the accelerations that van Garderen would face from Froome and others.
"I have worked on a few things in training – accelerations, rhythm changes – to try to be more well-rounded to go with those pure climbers," van Garderen said.
"I was training with some team-mates, we would do some race simulation where they would come from behind and they would attack me and I would have to get on their wheels as fast as I could. And then different things, intervals, looking at your power doing 40 seconds as hard as you can, then recovering for 20 seconds. Then 40 again as hard as you can.
"Often, people think power to weight ratio, that's your winning formula for the Tour, but it's so much more dynamic and complex."
Van Garderen has finished fifth on two occasions in the Tour and won the white jersey of best young rider. This year, based on his lead-up without injuries and increased team support, he explained that he feels more confident in his abilities. That showed in the Critérium du Dauphiné in mid-June, when he pushed Froome until the last day for the overall win.
"The Dauphiné raised my confidence; I was able to play on that level. When he was attacking me, normally, he'd be able to ride away and I'd never see him again, but this time it was always 10 or 12 seconds,” Van Garderen added.
"It was narrow margins that I was beaten by, I even got the better of him on Pra Loup. I saw him start to fade. I thought, he's Froome, he doesn't fade, so it was a bit surprising when I caught him. I thought, 'OK, I'm going to beat Chris Froome.' That's pretty cool.
"On any given day, I can be right there with him, or that he might not be that far ahead. In a three-week race, if it's a tug of war like that then anything's possible."
BMC Racing said that its aim is to put the American on the podium, as close as possible to the top. As van Garderen said, anything is possible.
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