Meet captain Tejay. Van Garderen grows into new role.

Van Garderen the new guard.

 

The wise and amusing Chris Fontecchio over at Podium Cafe did some pondering on BMC this morning. He was questioning the identity of the squad and where they were headed.

He made plenty of good points and came to the conclusion that the two kids — Taylor Phinney and Tejay van Garderen — are the true future of this squad.

We’ve been impressed with van Garderen for the last few years. He’s down-to-earth, approachable and sports a good sense of humor to go with the power-to-weight ratio. It’s easy to forget that he’s still only 25 years of age, married with kid. You don’t often see that kind of rapid maturity.

He’s also dealt with very high expectations brought on by several impressive early results — third in the 2010 Dauphine and in 2011, second in the Volta ao Algarve and fifth in the Tour of California. Not easy to grow up in public with those kinds of pressures but van Garderen has the laid-back, chill demeanor of a grand tour rider.

Yes, he can be ruffled and knocked off his game — Garmin did that to van Garderen and BMC  in the 2012 US Pro Cycling Challenge. However, van Garderen also learns fast because the next year he came back and won the Tour of California and US Pro Cycling Challenge.

He dominated both events and put his team in full smack-down mode. Even the Pitbull Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp was left howling in rage and disappointment after the Vail time trial.

While he had two unfortunate days in the Pyrenees in this years’ Tour de France, 2013 will also be marked down as the year van Garderen stepped up and demonstrated to can handle the captain role at BMC. Cadel Evans will tackle the Giro d’Italia and van Garderen has Le Grand Shindig all to himself.

We had an opportunity to interview van Garderen for twenty minutes right after the COlorado stage race for a story in Cycle Sport magazine  WHat struck us in particular were his comments on what kind of leader he wanted to be.

Here is what he had to say: “I want to be thought of as a leader that elevates the people around me. I’ve worked with a couple of riders who were maybe a little insecure in their leadership. If someone else was riding strong they’d actually want to push them down and make sure they kept their leadership spot,” says van Garderen. “The kind of leader I want to be is one who’s maybe not always the strongest guy but the one who’s able to elevate everyone around him — to raise the bar, the standard on what’s expected.”

Now, I don’t know what other BMC riders he was referencing in that leadership quote but it’s hard not to read that as a critique of Cadel Evans. The Australian is not known as a particularly inspirational leader who takes his teammates to a higher level.

That reminds me of a quote from Chris Horner about the difference between riding for Lance Armstrong and Cadel Evans. He said Lance made everyone better while Cadel largely functioned in his own bubble — a consummate professional but only focused on his own performance.

Twisted Spoke looks forward to watching van Garderen be the boss-man in France. It’s hard to imagine anyone beating Froome for a few years and when Nairo Quintana improves his TT, that will be frightening. That said, van Garderen continues to raise his game, mentally and physically. We feel confident that a Tour podium is a strong possibility sooner rather than later.

Now, time for Taylor Phinney to up his classics game ….

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