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LEON, Spain (VN) — Tejay van Garderen will have full support of his BMC teammates for next week’s Paris-Nice, where BMC enters the season’s first major stage race “to win.”
Van Garderen said winning a stage race is one of his major goals this year in addition to taking a run at the Tour de France.
“I want to win a GC. I’ve been close a few times now and I want be on the top spot on the podium,” van Garderen told VeloNews. “I should have a few opportunities early in the season before the Tour.”
Van Garderen clicked his 2013 season into gear on a high note, finishing second at Argentina’s Tour de San Luís in January.
The fourth-year pro will headline a deep BMC squad for Paris-Nice starting March 3, the first major stage race of the season.
“We are bringing a strong team totally dedicated to Tejay,” BMC sport director John Lelangue said in a team release. “There is never pressure, but we are going to Paris-Nice to win. With Tejay and the progress he has made in the last season, and also what he has done during the winter, and what we have seen him do in Argentina, we are going there to make a good result.”
Van Garderen will have a solid support system of riders, including Brent Bookwalter, who was second at the Tour of Qatar, as well as Amaël Moinard and three riders who helped van Garderen finish runner-up last month at the Tour de San Luis: Mathias Frank, Dominik Nerz and Daniel Oss.
Van Garderen is keen to snag a GC victory. His first pro win came in the 2011 time trial at the Tour of Utah and he’s been knocking on the door of a major GC prize since his breakout 2010 rookie season.
In 2010, he was second in the Tour of Turkey and third at the Critérium du Dauphiné, results that announced his arrival in the peloton.
He followed that up with second at the Tour of the Algarve as well as third at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in 2011. Last year he bumped to second at the USA Pro Cycling challenge and won a stage, while he finished fourth at the Tour of California.
After that track record, van Garderen is ready to take the highest step on the podium.
France treated him well last year, as he rode to fifth and the best young rider’s jersey in both Paris-Nice and the Tour de France.
“Paris-Nice is a race that’s ideal for my style of racing,” he told VeloNews at the team’s presentation in Belgium last month. “We’ll see how it goes, but what I really want it so win a GC this year. I’ve been close and Paris-Nice would be a great race to win.”
He and BMC captain Cadel Evans are splitting their respective racing schedules throughout much of the approach to the Tour, with Evans slated to race Tirreno-Adriatico next month while van Garderen targets Paris-Nice.
World champion Philippe Gilbert, meanwhile, will use Paris-Nice to fine-tune his form ahead of Milan-San Remo.
“This race is one of the nicest on the calendar and also a very important one to step up my condition with a hard week on the bike,” Gilbert said in a BMC team release. “I hope to do a nice prologue and give my best to protect Tejay. I am doing much better now than I was 12 months ago.”