RISOUL, France (VN) — Antibiotics are not slowing down Tejay van Garderen’s push for the podium at the Tour de France.
BMC Racing officials confirmed to VeloNews that van Garderen, who bolstered his podium hopes by attacking late in Saturday’s summit finale to Risoul, has been taking antibiotics for five days to treat a minor chest infection.
“From the beginning of the Tour, some of the guys got sick from England, and it went around the team. Tejay was the last to get it,” BMC Racing doctor Max Testa told VeloNews. “He’s been on antibiotics for a few days, and will be a total of seven or eight days.”
Van Garderen was already sounding raspy in the voice when VeloNews spoke to him at the start of Thursday’s stage.
When he sat down to talk to journalists following the mountaintop finale, van Garderen said he was missing his top-end kick, citing four crashes he suffered in the opening half of the Tour coupled with what he called bronchitis.
“I’m generally not the most explosive rider, but I think after the rest day I came down with a bit of bronchitis, and then there were the crashes and that kind of just took away a bit of my top end,” van Garderen said after cooling down. “After the rest day and into the Pyrénées, I should bounce back a little bit.”
Testa said Monday’s rest day will give van Garderen an extra day to recover ahead of the Pyrénées.
“The rest day comes at a good time for us. If he passes tomorrow, and has a good rest day, he should be competitive for the Pyrénées,” Testa said. “I think the complaint from missing the kick is coming from the crashes. The breathing has always been under control. Sure, he is a little off his top end. … He is getting better every day. When a rider is sick, but they’re getting better fast, that means they’re in a good shape.”
BMC Racing general manager Jim Ochowicz said the team is confident van Garderen can push through Sunday’s transition stage to Nimes, and be ready to battle for the podium across three decisive stages in the Pyrénées next week at full health.
“He has a tickly throat. He’ll be okay. If he was sitting there coughing, we’d all be worried, but he’s healthy for the most part,” Ochowicz told VeloNews. “The podium is there. It’s tight, anything can happen. Tomorrow is hard. It doesn’t seem hard on paper, but if there are mistral winds, those are echelon winds. It won’t be easy.”
Van Garderen remains poised for the final podium. He surged Saturday in the wake of an attack from race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), drawing out the French duo of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) struggled, leaving the gap between second place and fifth-place van Garderen just 1:12.
“My trump card is going to be that time trial,” van Garderen said. “If I can stay close, I can take back some time.”
When pressed about how much time he could take back on the French riders, van Garderen was realistic.
“If I am within a minute of them, I think I have a chance,” he said. “I think the smartest thing I can do is stay within my limits. If I can get to that time trial pretty close on time, on paper at least, I should be able to move up a couple of spots.”