Van Garderen leads BMC podium sweep in Tour of Utah prologue

Tejay van Garderen took the Tour of Utah prologue win, and with it the lead in the stage race.

Tejay van Garderen led a BMC Racing podium sweep on Monday during the prologue time trial at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The American covered the 5.3 kilometer course in 6:27 to finish ahead of U.S. time trial champion Joey Rosskopf and teammate Tom Bohli.

After starting last, van Garderen quickly established a pace that put him amongst the contenders for the stage win. He set the fastest time at the turnaround, then continued to push on the descent to the finish, besting Rosskopf by 3.76 seconds and Bohli by 5.51 seconds. Neilson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo) was the first non-BMC rider in fourth, 6.51 seconds down.

“Pacing was certainly important today,” said van Garderen, who is racing in Utah for the first time since 2011. “You started out uphill and the roads were wide so it was a little deceiving. I think the gradient was higher than people expected which meant that you had to over-pace and then try to recover a little bit on the downhill then over-pace again on the way out before you were basically screaming at 75km/h all the way to the finish. On a course like this, you don’t want to blow up but at the same time, you want to gauge your effort well.”

Rosskopf, the reigning national time trial champion, described the short effort, which saw riders tackle an out-and-back course which steadily rose for the first 2km before a short descent to the turnaround, as “violent.”

“Today’s race was a pretty violent effort as you were going as hard as you could on the climbs but then barely pedalling on the descents. It wasn’t your normal pacing strategy so there was plenty to think about out there today even though it was such a short course.”

Van Garderen came to Utah fresh off the Tour de France, where his GC hopes were dashed on the same stage 9 that saw his team leader, Richie Porte, abandon the race with a broken clavicle. The American crashed twice in the cobbled stage to Roubaix, ending any hope for a high overall placing after he lost more than six minutes.

After the Tour, he said, he did a couple of three-hour rides while the rest of his training was simply recovery rides.