Tejay van Garderen is BMC’s boss again.
It may only be for a day and just in Portugal and perhaps limited to the Algarve region but Van Garderen is The Man. He proved significantly faster in the Volta ao Algarve time trial than his teammate and Tour de France captain Richie Porte.
Once upon a time, Van Garderen was Plan A for Le Tour but after several underwhelming performances and the arrival — and Tour success — of Porte, there was a definite change in leadership at BMC. Down went Tejay, up went Porte.
However, today in the rolling 20.3 km time trial around Lagoa, the American was flying. He clocked a seventh place, 47 seconds off the winning time of Geraint Thomas of Team Sky. That was 41 places higher and 1:18 quicker than the Tasmanian, a man that Van Garderen will be supporting in the Alps and Pyrenees in July.
Van Garderen’s big day also set him up nicely in the hunt for a GC podium. He finds himself in 5th overall, 53 seconds behind Thomas and 20 seconds behind third-placed Nelson Oliveira of Movistar. Not a bad days work given the ups and mostly downs of the last few years.
“I felt good. The sensations were good and the power was reading well,” said Van Garderen. That’s all good news considering those good sensations had largely disappeared until Van Garderen put together a solid top ten overall in the 2017 Vuelta a Espana. At one low point point, BMC management openly wondering if something wasn’t quite right in Tejay’s head.
While Porte wasn’t operating at quite the same high wattage, he made it clear the performance was no reason for alarms bells. “I’m not really shocked or surprised with how today went. I will be good come Tirreno-Adriatico which is my first big goal of the European campaign,” said Porte. “My coach David Bailey and I expected a performance like this based on my recent training.”
For now, it’s Van Garderen who can dream big. “I put in a good time, moved up on GC, and stayed safe so I’m happy. Sunday has a climb I know well,” he said. “It is a bit better than the climb we had the other day. It’s less tactical and it’s steeper so it will be more selective. So hopefully we can put on a show there.”
It may just be Portugal in February, but make no mistake: Van Garderen is the temporary boss of BMC.