Tejay Van Garderen is earning the white jersey as he helps Cadel Evans defend his Tour de France title. After a strong time trial and aggressive ride yesterday up the La Toussuire climb, he leads the young riders’ competition by 1-54 minutes.
“I enjoy being in the white, but it’s not something I think about long term, for Paris,” the American told Cycling Weekly. “If it happens, it happens, and that’s awesome. If it doesn’t happen, and Cadel’s in yellow, that’s the main goal.”
He attacked on the Col de la Croix de Fer climb yesterday to setup a counter-move for Evans. The two briefly rode ahead of Bradley Wiggins’ Sky team before succumbing. He eased off on the final climb to La Toussuire help his captain.
Van Garderen made his gains for the white jersey in the time trials. In the prologue, he finished 10 seconds behind winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and in the long TT to Besançon, he placed fourth and 1-06 minutes behind Wiggins. His Besançon result earned him the jersey again after losing it for two days to Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis). He said that it feels good to wear it.
“It does, it was kind of unexpected. I thought it was gone for good after stage seven. I’m happy to have it back,” Van Garderen continued.
“If I’m still there within striking distance in the final TT, then I’ll go full gas because there’s nothing to save with the Paris stage the next day.”
“We get nice press with it,” BMC’s general manager, Jim Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly. “That’s not why he’s here, it’s not our goal. … The number one priority is Cadel.”
BMC Racing signed the 23-year-old over the winter from HTC-Highroad. In his debut year in 2010, he placed third in the Critérium du Dauphiné and last year, he placed second in the Tour of Algarve.
The team hopes that the experience riding for Evans will pay off in the coming years. Ochowicz sees Van Garderen as a future Tour winner.
“It wouldn’t surprise me, [holding the yellow jersey] for one day or for the entirety of the race, I don’t know,” Ochowicz said. “He’s got the skills, he can TT and he can climb, he can hang in the bunch on flat stages… He has all the characteristics of a Grand Tour rider. It makes sense that his future will be yellow.”
Ochowicz allowed Van Garderen to push as hard as possible in the Besançon time trial to see what was possible and to gain experience in a long time trial.
“It was not for the white jersey, but it was so he could ride a time trial at full gas and so that he could continue to improve that skill because someday he’s going to be sitting here with the yellow jersey on.”
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