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BENICASSIM, Spain (VN) — Tejay van Garderen isn’t heading to Team Sky, or any other team for that matter—at least not anytime soon.
The American denied rumors he’s switching to the British super-team, and confirmed he is under contract with BMC Racing for 2018.
“That was plucked completely out of the atmosphere. I don’t know where that one came from,” van Garderen told VeloNews. “I have a contract with BMC, and I intend on honoring it.”
Rumors of van Garderen’s transfer began flying last week, via the Cycling Podcast’s Daniel Friebe, who reported that Team Sky might be interested in the American rider. Van Garderen just the kind of rider that Team Sky could slot into its powerful fleet of helpers, and his proven engine would be a valuable addition to Chris Froome’s train at the Tour de France.
Van Garderen, however, said he’s fully committed to completing his existing contract BMC Racing for 2018.
“I brought my family up to Isola 2000 [ski resort] before the Vuelta, and I did not realize it, but Sky was two doors down,” van Garderen said. “So maybe people saw our Strava’s, ‘oh, they’re training together,’ but I barely even saw them. I might have waved as I saw them going in opposite directions on a ride. That’s the only reason I can think of how that rumor might have started.”
BMC Racing does not typically reveal the length of its rider contracts, but BMC Racing sporting manager Alan Peiper also confirmed that van Garderen has one year remaining on his current contract.
“He does … whatever happens in the future, we’ll see,” Peiper said. “Hopefully he finds his wings again, and he can begin to fly.”
In what’s already been an especially active trading season this year, Team Sky is looking to bolster its “Fortress Froome.” The team has seen a few of its stalwarts leave, including Mikel Nieve, Mikel Landa and Peter Kennaugh. So far, it’s signed Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) and David de la Fuente (Quick-Step). A few more moves are likely.
There’s been speculation about van Garderen’s future ever since the leadership shake up within BMC Racing, with Richie Porte usurping him as the leader’s role for the Tour de France.
With the center of the team’s gravity now around Porte, van Garderen took a different approach this season. He raced the Giro d’Italia in May, securing his first-ever grand tour stage victory in the Dolomites. After missing the Tour for the first time since his debut in 2011, van Garderen now races the Vuelta with renewed enthusiasm.
The 28-year-old is off to a hot start during this Vuelta a España, starting Wednesday’s fifth stage fourth overall, just two seconds behind Chris Froome’s (Sky) leader’s jersey. BMC Racing won the opening team time trial, and van Garderen hung tough in Andorra on stage 3.
“It seems like he’s in a good place,” Peiper said. “We’ve put zero pressure on him, so it might be good for him. People don’t realize the pressure that comes with be a GC leader on a team. It seems like he’s moving in the right direction.”