Tejay van Garderen has announced he will become a sports director with his team EF Education-Nippo in 2022.
The American retired in June after the US National Championships, having felt at the Giro d'Italia he could no longer perform at the level he wanted to, calling time on a professional career that began in 2008.
“At the Giro, I spoke to Matti Breschel and he was the one telling me, ‘If opportunities come, say yes. You might think you want to take a year off and figure things out but opportunities don’t come very often.’” Van Garderen said. “It all happened really fast. I almost still can’t believe I’m not a bike racer anymore but I’m really excited with the direction everything’s taken.”
During his career, Van Garderen won the Tour of California, in 2013, and twice finished in the top five of the Tour de France.
“When you’re a bike racer, you think, ‘Once I’m done racing I’m just going to put the sport behind me’ and start the next chapter. But when I was facing my own cycling mortality, I realised I’m still not done with the sport," Van Garderen explained. "I want to stay involved, I want to stay connected, I want to be with the guys and help in any way I can and if I can’t help with my legs anymore, then I want to help with my mind and my experience. Being a director, that’s the best way to do it.
“I’ve crashed out of a big event, I’ve had a few pretty epic fails, so I’d probably be the perfect guy to talk them through it and say, ‘This happens to everyone, don’t let it define you.’”
Van Garderen will start learning the ropes as soon as the 2021 Vuelta a España, where he will shadow the team ahead of stepping up to the full sports director role next season.
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