By Fred Dreier
American Tejay Van Garderen will make his ProTour debut next season flying the colors of Columbia-Highroad. Van Garderen, 21, recently collected the overall win at Spain’s Circuito de Montañes stage race, and is a graduate of USA Cycling’s U23 development program in Izegem, Belgium. For the last two seasons Van Garderen has raced for Rabobank’s continental development team.
“It’s a dream,” Van Garderen told VeloNews. “It’s the best team in the world right now. (Columbia-Highroad) showed a lot of enthusiasm in me, and I’m very certain I’ll get a chance to go for some results next year on the team.”
Van Garderen, who hails from Fort Collins, Colorado, said his decision to join the team is based on its commitment to developing young professionals into winners.
“The team doesn’t just buy winners, (Columbia-Highroad) is a team that tries to turn riders into winners,” Van Garderen said. “A lot of riders on the team, no one really heard of before coming on the team.”
Leaving Rabobank, Van Garderen said, was not an easy decision. But Rabobank’s plethora of young talent on its continental development squad made Van Garderen question whether he’d get the ProTour nod for 2010.
“(Rabobank) only has a few (ProTour) spots to fill next year and they have more than 20 guys on the continental team who want a spot,” Van Garderen said. “I’m not the only guy on the team winning races. There just aren’t enough spots for everyone.”
Van Garderen does not know his racing schedule for next year, but said he hopes to toe the line in major stage races. Netting a spot to race in Spain’s Vuelta a España, Van Garderen said, would be his primary goal of the season.