Road

In the big ring: HTC’s Van Garderen

American Tejay Van Garderen is racing the 2010 Amgen Tour of California for HTC-Columbia in support of Michael Rogers. It is a vastly different experience than the last time he did the race — in 2007 with the U.S. national team.

Van Garderen takes the start of ATOC stage 2
Van Garderen takes the start of ATOC stage 2

American Tejay Van Garderen is racing the 2010 Amgen Tour of California for HTC-Columbia in support of Michael Rogers. It is a vastly different experience than the last time he did the race — in 2007 with the U.S. national team.

“That was my very first time out of the juniors, my first race with a 53-tooth chainring,” said Van Garderen. (USA Cycling specifies that juniors race with lower gearing. However that didn’t stop Coryn Rivera from winning the Sacramento Grand Prix on Sunday.)

“In 2007 I made it to about to just after the neutral on stage 4, and then bam, in the cars,” Van Garderen said. “I think I can expect a little bit better this year.”

Indeed, he’s already performed much better, shadowing HTC’s GC rider Rogers throughout the first two stages, and giving up his front wheel Monday so Rogers could quickly continue after a puncture. Both were climbing with the front group when Rogers flatted. With so many crashes on the day — and the field shattered into pieces — Van Garderen had to wait for minutes to get himself a new front wheel and continue on to the finish.

Van Garderen came to HTC from Rabobank, where he rode on the famed Dutch program’s U23 squad.

He captured second overall at the Tour of Turkey in April.