Van Garderen hones in, homes in.

All smiles in Portugal

Distance between Aspen, Colorado and Girona, Spain: 8,530 kilometers. Distance between Albufeira, Portugal and Girona, Spain, 1,319 Kilometers.

There you have perhaps the ultimate metric the will determine the performance of BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen. Less travel equals stronger race results. Home determines wattage.

Van Garderen just finished the Volta ao Algarve in third place overall behind Michal Kwiatkowski and Geraint Thomas of Team Sky. That’s a nice way to kick off your first race of the season.

It all comes back to the power of home. For the 2018 season, Van Garderen moved with his wife and two little girls from Aspen, Colorado to Girona, Spain, full time, all in. That shortened things up significantly for his trip to Albufeira, Portugal for the start of the race and his return back home to Girona.

When he first discussed the move, it was clear he felt there were clear benefit to keeping the family all together. “It’s tough to leave Aspen, but I think it’s the right move,’ said van Garderen. “All the races I do throughout the season are in Europe anyways, so I spend eight months out of the year overseas. It helps the girls not have to travel back and forth and it saves a little bit of travel for me.”

The move already seems to be paying dividends. A third place in the Volta ao Algarve provides confidence and extra motivation going forward. “I feel good. Team Sky was obviously really strong taking first and second, and three stage victories so they were a notch above us,” he said. “To be third in the first race of the season shows that my form is progressing nicely and I’m where I need to be heading into the big goals.”

With all the ups and downs in his career, Van Garderen has changed up his training a few times in an attempt to get back to the form that saw him in the top five at the Tour de France. For  all the tweaks and optimizations in his program, his nutrition and his workouts, perhaps the simplest and most profound change is the move from Aspen to Girona. Happy family, faster bike racer.

In discussing the switch with the Aspen Times newspaper back in January, Van Garderen hoped his change of address would keep the positive momentum going from last year’s top ten in the Vuelta a Espana. “Last year was an OK year. I wouldn’t call it my best season, but it certainly wasn’t the worst,” van Garderen said. “I feel like I’m on an upward trajectory right now. As far as goals I want to accomplish, I don’t know. I just want to go to every race I enter and go to win. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished in my career, but I’m certainly capable of more.”

A podium spot in Portugal certainly fits in the “more” category. Now, it’s on to Paris-Nice with a greater sense of purpose and aspirations. “Paris-nice has a similar layout, just a couple of days longer. There is one long gradual summit finish and a steep punchy stage so this was almost a trial run. The racing will be a higher level and probably worse weather but this was perfect preparation,” said Van Garderen.

We’ll see what this season brings for Van Garderen. For the moment at least, Girona is a smarter move than Aspen.

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