Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia) is hoping to cap the first half of his successful debut with a strong showing overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Van Garderen started the eight-day stage-race with a bang Sunday, stopping the clock just two seconds short of the yellow jersey, for second behind winner Alberto Contador (Astana).
“I had good form in California. I didn’t get to ride my own GC there, because I gave up a wheel for Rogers, which was totally worth it, because we won,” Van Garderen told VeloNews. “I came in here thinking I could do a good GC.”
Van Garderen finished safely in the pack in Tuesday’s road stage to Bourg-Saint-Andéol to remain second overall.
Since there are no mid-stage or finish-line time bonuses, he’s had no chance to erase the difference to Contador to try to grab the leader’s jersey.
“There are no time bonuses, so there’s no point in going crazy in the sprints. Contador said he’s not interested in defending the leader’s jersey, I was, well, why did you win? Why didn’t you slow down two seconds, we would have loved to have the jersey!” he said. “There’s no young rider’s jersey, either. I was second in the stage (Sunday) and I didn’t even get to go to the podium. I was kind of bummed.”
Van Garderen comes into the Dauphiné looking to cap a very successful opening half of his debut year among the elite ranks. He finished ninth in his season debut at the Volta ao Algarve in February and then second overall at the Tour of Turkey in May.
At last month’s Tour of California, Van Garderen helped teammate Rogers win the overall and carries strong form into the Dauphiné Libéré, an important litmus test for riders heading into July’s Tour de France.
Van Garderen won’t be racing in July, but realizes he will have a tough road against Contador in Wednesday’s 49km time trial.
“I’m riding pretty good in TTs, but I’ve never done a 50km one before, that will be a new test,” he said. “I just have to stay concentrated. It’s going to be pretty nerve-racking having Contador behind me. If I don’t get caught, it will be a success.”
After Dauphiné, Van Garderen will take a three-week break and return with the Tour of Austria in August.
“My goal would be to make the Vuelta team at the end of the year, but the team is kind of cautious with neo-pros. If I don’t get to do it, it’s no problem, but it would be exciting to go,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, well, maybe two seconds better the other day.”