AS SUWAYQ, Oman (VN) — Tejay van Garderen’s season began in the Tour of Oman with confidence after a fifth place in the 2014 Tour de France, but he knows that he needs to work on his weaknesses to forget some bittersweet memories.
“My fifth in the Tour was bittersweet,” BMC Racing’s American captain told VeloNews.
“I look back and see that I had bad luck, some bad moments, poor preparation, and with the opportunity that I had, having two big contenders fall out … It’s going to be hard to get that opportunity back, but that definitely motivates me for the future, and it helped me this winter with training.”
Overall favorites Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) crashed and abandoned the 2014 Tour. Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won and van Garderen finished 11:24 behind, in fifth.
Van Garderen wanted more, especially since Froome and Contador went home early. However, a crash and broken hip in the Tour de Romandie led to a “bad” Critérium du Dauphiné and an imperfect Tour lead-up.
“It sent the team into a panic,” he explained.
The Tour was not ideal for van Garderen, who became sick after the rain and cold, and needed antibiotics. He failed to eat enough on the rest day, and had a “bad hunger flat” the next day in the Pyrenees.
“It was up and down last season, I had a lot of setbacks, nothing went smoothly or according to plan, but there are definitely some results that I can take away from that I’m really happy with.”
Van Garderen called 2014 “his best season ever.” He took that same confidence into the winter. He worked on his weaknesses in training at team camps, at home in California and Aspen, and at his new European base in Nice, France.
“I always try to work on my weaknesses, but that’s not due to certain [Tour] parcours, that’s just trying to make myself a better bike racer,” he continued.
“Weaknesses? I’d say multiple accelerations. I can grind out one tempo for a long time, but to get out of the saddle and follow those quick attacks from guys like [Alejandro] Valverde or Contador can really … I have trouble going into the red zone and then settling back in, so I’ve been working on that a bit.”
Contador and Froome begin their seasons Wednesday in Spain’s Ruta del Sol stage race.
Van Garderen traveled to the Middle East, where he began the six-day Tour of Oman yesterday. Ahead of the race Monday, he posed with Valverde, Nibali, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), and a handful of other stars in a mini-golf course for a group photograph.
“It’s a little intimidating,” he said after the photo shoot while sitting on the terrace of the Millennium Resort.
“It’s hard to get such a quality field for races [early] in the year, but here you have grand tour champions, classics champions. Just the names this race has been able to attract, it hits you; it’s like, ‘Whoa!'”