Van Garderen no longer a Tour de France leader?

Van Garderen. No Tour for Tejay?

Van Garderen. No Tour for Tejay?

We have to think that somewhere in Colorado, Aspen, we’re guessing, Tejay van Garderen is seething. BMC management, in the form of Performance Director Allan Peiper, has gone on record as saying that at next year’s Tour de France, it’s all for Richie Porte, with not a single mention of what role there will be for Van Garderen.

Now maybe the former top five in Le Tour (twice!) is resigned, frustrated or philosophical about the second fiddle position but we’re going to go with seething.

Certainly you can understand the frustration and disappointment on BMC’s side. They feel like they invested plenty in Tejay, built a grand tour team around him and gave him every resource they had. That included patience because for the last two or three years they’ve waited for Van Garderen to take that next final step up.

In the 2015 Tour, it appeared that step would be onto the podium with Sky’s Chris Froome. Going into the final week, he was in third place, all systems go, every star aligned, but sickness forced him out on stage 17.

Well, two years on and it sounds like BMC is done with the Great Tejay van Garderen Experience. They’ve handed the leadership role in full to Richie Porte, who was arguably the second strongest rider next to Froome in last year’s Tour. While he finished fifth overall, bad luck and the loss of a minute and a half in the opening stage ultimately doomed his podium chances. Take that misfortune away and Porte was in second place.

BMC’s Peiper made it abundantly clear what happens for Porte next year in July in France. “We are building a team that focuses on him, he is the only leader and I think the most important thing which is critical is that Richie believes it,” said Peiper.

That’s not the first shot Van Garderen has taken in terms of his ability to make the podium at the Tour. After his fail at this year’s Tour and the subsequent fail at the Vuelta, Australian cycling journalist Anthony Tan dumped all over the Coloradan.

In an article entitled False Hopes, Tan wrote “I need a lot of convincing for someone to honestly tell me that van Garderen is a Grand Tour rider. I need even more (actually, I probably need to be drugged or hypnotized) for someone to tell me he’s a Grand Tour leader,” wrote Tam. Perhaps Peiper has come to the same conclusion.

Where that leaves Van Garderen is anyone’s guess, In a long interview this September with Neal Rogers of CycleTips, it was clear he wasn’t exactly sure himself where he stood with the team and in what races he would have leadership.

“As for next year, I will talk to the team. There are different ideas being thrown around. Some people are reactive to certain things. Some people are saying that it’s obvious Richie will be the leader next year, so where does that leave me?” said Van Garderen. “Do I go as a backup plan? Do I go to the Giro, and then to the Tour in a support role? Do I do the Giro and Vuelta, and skip the Tour altogether?”

The most interesting part of the CycleTips interview is the one place where you can feel the tension between Van Garderen and his BMC squad. It was a section about his progression as a grand tour rider and what training plans were required. “You expect that it will be a linear progression. But sometimes it’s not, and a lot of time, people with the best intentions tell you certain things to do, to try to keep progressing, try this, or try this.”

“I think the whole marginal gains thing… that’s the most bullshit term that’s ever been coined. I think the whole thing was made up to get into people’s heads — ‘I wonder if we can get guys to try this?’ — and some people took the bait.” When Rogers asked Tejay to explain in more detail who was giving him advice that he now questions, he didn’t hesitate to answer: “Mostly people within the team.”

It sounds like Tejay van Garderen plans to assert himself more in what he will and won’t do at BMC. The question is, what races will he do because the Tour is for Richie Porte and that baton has been passed on.


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6 Responses to “Van Garderen no longer a Tour de France leader?”

  1. Teejay is toast. Only good for shorter stage races–if that.

  2. RP usually still has a bad day or 2 in the TdF. TJ just doesn’t have the mental fortitude as a team leader or the legs for a podium finisher in a GT.

    • Ridein, well, I’m still pulling for Tejay but let’s just say he has an uphill battle — with himself and the team. I hope he can turn it around and yes RP does usually have a bad day in the TDF — or bad luck. Matt

  3. He’s a bottle bitch at best!