I’ve got a whole set of neuroses and anxieties that I struggle to contain but now another has flared up right after the Tirreno-Adriatico. Sure, I worry about my kids, my tenuous career and Trump insanity but mostly, I’m preoccupied with dark thoughts about Tejay van Garden.
I’ve feeling a worrisome combination of Van Garderen anxiety, pervasive Tejay doom, an oppressive sense that, after his anonymous performances in Tirreno-Adriatico, his bid to win the Giro d’Italia in May is in jeopardy.
This is a painful fear to try to manage — without resort to pharma’s finest drugs. Because, basically, I like Tejay. I think he’s a swell guy, hardworking, genuine, kinda funny when he’s in the mood, a talented endurance athlete with two top fives in the hardest stage race in the universe, the Tour de France.
Here’s the ugly and revealing case in point: BMC teammate Rohan Dennis. Van Garderen was sharing team leadership in Tirreno with Dennis, a guy at the start point of a four year plan to become something that Tejay has been for ages: a stage racer.
Only thing is, Dennis out-climbs my boy and then out-time trials him and then, as a stage race newbie, takes second overall right behind the best pure climber in the world, Movistar’s Nairo Quintana.
So glass overflowing with champagne for Dennis; glass with noticeable crack that’s half empty and leaking for Tejay. You can see my dire and depressed leading of the glass analogy. This was not a good showing, it did not build self-confidence.
And yeah, I appreciate you trying to calm me with down with the “This is March, the Giro’s in May” line of reasoning. That’s a valid point but like a Trump voter in Kentucky, we’re pretty much immune to facts or objective analysis. We’re a caldron of fear, a crockpot of apprehension, a spit bucket of anxiety.
Rohan Dennis was nice about everything, of course. “I’m still going to be there for Tejay. That’s my first role, I’m still going to play second fiddle,” he said. “Tejay wasn’t up to scratch for a podium here, but that’s because he’s doing a slower gradual build towards May. He’ll be good there.”
Still, I’m in a state of worry and bewilderment. This is the make or break year for Tejay van Garderen as a BMC team leader in a grand tour. A fail in the Giro is going to look very, very bad at the BMC HQ. I don’t want to contemplate those ramifications and neither does Tejay.