Van Garderen. One behind Fab Four
Serious Tejay buzz happening in the last week as nearly every journo and analyst has him slotted in just behind the Fab Four, along with Thibaut Pinot
Really, Van Garderen and Pinot deserve a catchy moniker for their own little Tour grouping — The Daring Duo, Tejay & Master P, The Upsetters? If the Fab Four are the Beatles, can we call these two the Rolling Stones? Are they petitioning the Fab Four to make it the Sensational Six?
The GC competition hasn’t been this stacked with high level talent in ages. So everybody is getting an extra large serving of hype. And maybe with only three Americans in the race, (along with countrymen Andrew Talansky and Tyler Farrar) the media boost on Van Garderen has been blown out of proportion.
In our view, the excitement around Van Garderen is merited. Nailing two top fives in Le Grand Shindig is nothing to sneeze at and the American continues to grow in terms of confidence, leadership and focus.
What sticks out most for Twisted Spoke is that there’s a mental toughness to Van Garderen that’s been somewhat overlooked. In the 2013 Tour, his first as BMC team leader, post Cadel Evans, he had a demoralizing first two weeks. He admitted later that he kind of hit rock bottom mentally in the second week.
However, he toughed it out, got his head straight and attacked the double ascent of Alpe d’Huez with fury. Only a mechanical prevented him from beating Cristophe Riblon of AG2R La Mondiale for a massive win on the queen stage.
Then in the 2014 Tour, bad luck again hit van Garderen hard. Like many in the peloton, he went down several times in the opening week of rain and bad weather. That’s a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice to come to the Tour in top shape two years in a row only to lose hope early on.
Yet, once again, Van Garderen showed his increasing mental strength as he fought thru his injuries and rode higher and higher up the GC. He was strong in the third week and again pulled out a fifth on GC, an impressive accomplishment given the circumstances.
Alberto Contador is known for this mental tenacity; Nibali for his Mr. Tranquillo approach to grand tour stress and Nairo Quintana appears tough as nails. Perhaps Van Garderen is a slight drop down from this elite group but it isn’t much. He has the legs and the head to win a grand tour.
Everyone knows the high probably that the Fab Four will be down to the Fab Three or Two by the end of the first week. The latest forecast points to a good chance of rain and thunderstorms in the Utrecht area for Le Grand Depart. There will be crashes and there will be blood and a few abandons.
We’re putting our money on Van Garderen or Pinot for the podium if the Fab Four fails to make it through week one.