Tejay van Garderen is an optimist. Only two days after dropping out of the Tour de France, while sitting third overall, he had moved on. He set his sights on the Vuelta a España, where he has been racing for the last week.
The American of team BMC Racing dropped out of the Tour in its third week, midway through the Pra Loup stage, due to a respiratory infection. He sat third overall behind leader Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana.
“It was a disappointment, but if you dwell on it too much it doesn’t do anyone any good,” van Garderen told Cycling Weekly yesterday.
“I went back to my place in Nice, Jessica changed her ticket flew over and met me the next day. It was good to have her company and we just took it as a holiday. I was upset there for a day or two, but then having here there with me, we were able to switch off. We didn’t have our daughter, so we could just spend time together, that was nice.
“Once I stated focusing on this race, the Tour was behind me.”
After twice finishing fifth overall in the Tour, he and BMC hoped that this would be the year. They aimed for a podium, or better, but then it unravelled in the mountains of the second week.
“I had no second thoughts about abandoning. I was in a bad way that day. I had been fighting a respiratory infection since the Plateau de Beille stage, then I had a fever on the [second] rest day,” he added.
“I hoped for the best, I prepared the best way I could, but my body just switched off.”
He left the Tour on July 22, spent around a week in Nice and travelled home to Aspin, Colorado. He began healing, training and thinking of the Vuelta – a rematch with Froome and Quintana.
Van Garderen sits one minute and 16 seconds overall behind leader Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) ahead of the first big mountain stage tomorrow to La Alpujarra, at 1565 metres.
He said that it should give followers an idea of who can win the race.
“Am I capable of beating Froome? Hopefully, down the line, I think so. In three weeks’ time? We’ll see. I don’t know.”