The question not asked of Tejay van Garderen after his victory in the recent US Pro Cycling challenge: given you’ve won the two biggest stage races in the US and came within a mechanical of winning the queen Alpe d’Huez stage in the Tour de France, should you be the unquestioned captain of BMC’s tour squad next year?
That answer arrived yesterday via Cadel Evans — the other BMC captain in question. Evans announced to Australian media that he would focus on the Giro d’Italia next season. (He’ll be 37 in February which isn’t a great age for winning a second Grand Boucle.)
“That looks like a direction to head in. After all the years going for the Tour, [the idea of missing the Tour] takes a little while getting used to,” Evans said. “But the Giro is always a race I wanted to do and do well in. It’s just a matter of changing mindset and so on. So at this point, it looks like directing my energies towards a grand tour other than the Tour de France.”
With Evan’s Tour DS John Lelangue gone for “personal reasons” and Evans giving up his Tour aspirations, it’s a done deal that van Garderen is now the BMC boss. He’s got all winter to work those Rosetta Stone Learn French DVDs.
Reading the quotes from Evans, the message is that he won’t even play a support role for van Garderen in France. The Tour winner in 2011 will simply be somewhere else besides Yorkshire.
“I can go to the Tour and go for stage wins, or ride for someone else; but having had the results I have had, I want to go for the win or I’d rather watch from the sidelines and put my energy into something else and go for that 100 per cent.”
Process that statement and it’s 100% certain that van Garderen will lead the red and black with no help or interference from the Australian.
Van Garderen had his jour sans in France but rode strongly in the final week. He had Alpe d’Huez to himself until a mechanical aided Christophe Riblon’s attempt to catch him in the final kilometer. Meanwhile Evans did an invisible and consistent fade out to Paris.
There was a changing of the guard at the 2013 with the emergence of Movistar’s Nairo Quintana and Andrew Talansky’s top ten finish. Froome himself is only 28 and plans on winning a few more Tours before his motivation runs out.
The Tour de France is no country for old men pushing inadequate wattage.
A year ago in Colorado, Garmin-Sharp rattled van Garderen with constant attacks from the gun, from Durango to Denver. That mental and physical stress wore on him enough that Garmin’s Christian Vande Velde was able to come from behind in the final Denver time trial and win the overall.
Garmin was on the attack again this year in the Rocky Mountains but they faced a more confident and mature van Garderen. He said it himself in the press conferences — older, wiser, less prone to anxieties and doubts. He’s learned how to be a leader and lets keep in mind he’s still only 25.
If we learned anything from the 2013 birthday edition of the 2013 Tour de France, it’s this: you need fresh legs to take on Chris Froome.