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Tejay van Garderen is heading to Spain to begin his 2016 season. The 27-year-old has debuted in the Middle East or South America the past three years, but this year he’s staying on European roads to open his racing calendar.
Van Garderen will click his season into gear at the Vuelta a Murcia and the Clásica de Almeria, a pair of one-day races in Spain this weekend.
“The decision to start the season in Spain is due to a number of reasons,” van Garderen said in a BMC Racing press release. “I’ve opened the two previous seasons with the Tour of Oman, but we felt it was a good idea to stay in Europe, in the same time zone, with a better climate and eliminate the travel involved. These races are competitive and will really set my season up well.”
After that, van Garderen will race the five-day Ruta del Sol, also in Spain. The remainder of his schedule is not officially defined, but it’s expected he will race Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné ahead of the Tour de France.
With the arrival of Richie Porte as co-leader for the Tour, the 2016 season marks a new chapter for van Garderen. BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz said the team is aiming for outright victory at the Tour this year, and van Garderen recently signed a contract extension to stay with the U.S.-registered team.
Van Garderen hasn’t raced since crashing out of the 2015 Vuelta a España in stage 8. BMC sport director Jackson Stewart said the pair of Spanish one-day races is a good way to blow out the cobwebs.
“They’re great races to start the season with,” Stewart said “We’re sending a solid GC team to the two races so that they can get a couple of good race days in their legs before continuing on to Ruta del Sol. Really anyone from the team has a shot in Murcia, and then Almeria is traditionally a sprinters’ race.”
BMC Racing for Vuelta a Murcia and the Clásica de Almeria
Darwin Atapuma (COL)
Brent Bookwalter (USA)
Damiano Caruso (ITA)
Philippe Gilbert (BEL)
Ben Hermans (BEL)
Samuel Sanchez (SPA)
Tejay van Garderen (USA)