Tejay van Garderen and his BMC squad won the stage 9 team time trial from Vannes to Plumelec by one second over Chris Froome and Team Sky. (That was probably the second that Sky’s fifth rider Nicolas Roche lost when he started to drop off the back in the final 750 meters.)
That’s a marginal gain of one whole second. Van Garderen had hoped to pick up 13 seconds and put himself in the maillot jaune. He would have been the first American in yellow since Floyd Landis and his Jack Daniels days. Didn’t happen but Tejay’s still one happy man with a strong team behind him.
What did happen was that Vincenzo Nibali dropped more time to Froome — about 45 seconds and finds himself 2:22 behind Froome. The defending Tour champion will need tomorrow’s rest day to figure out how he’ll somehow crawl his way onto the podium. He is not tranquillo and team boss Alexander Vinokourov has already half finished a personal letter to the Shark over non-performance.
Movistar’s Nairo Quintana on the other hand is in good spirits and building momentum just two days before the little climber hits the Pryrenees. His team finished an impressive third, picking up time around 30 seconds on Alberto Contador and Saxo Tinkoff. The Colombian is now 1:59 off yellow with the high mountains on the horizon.
Contador continues his steady approach to the Tour as he waits to see what he still has in his legs after winning a tough Giro d’Italian. Will he gradually fade or can he pull off the Giro-Tour double against a Chris Froome who looks to be in dominant form?
The man who looks the most impressive is the new member of the group which has now been renamed the Fab Five — or Four if you’re writing off Nibali. Tejay van Garderen has been perfect each day and continues to build confidence. He was close to Froome in the Dauphiné and now heads to the mountains with a tremendous shot at the podium.
As van Garderen said after the team time trial, “We knew we were on a good one.” That could very well describe his Tour de France so far.