The venerable Jens Voigt, at age 41, the oldest man in the Tour de France, gave his podium picks for the race.
No surprise that he predicted Sky’s Chris Froome for the win and Alberto Contador of Saxo Bank-Tinkoff to score second. What did turn our head was Voigt’s confident selection of BMC’s Tejay van Garderen to make the final step of the podium.
Jens Voigt has seen a few things in his career so when he tabs Van Garderen, you take notice. The rider he didn’t choose was the BMC captain, 36 year old Cadel Evans.
We’re figuring that Voigt knows something about the demands of riding the Tour de France to win when you’re an older champion like Evans. Voigt also had a up-close view of Van Garderen winning the Tour of California and must have come away impressed.
It’s hard to find any cycling journlist who doesn’t think Van Garderen has a good shot at winning Le Grand Shindig in the near future. The question is only when, how fast, and at what time BMC will pass the reigns from Evans to the kid from Montana.
It’s interesting to wonder whether Van Garderen is ready to be the boss-man for three weeks in a grand Tour. Van Garderen just missed winning last season’s US Pro Cycyling Challenge to Garmin’s Christian Vande Velde.
At the time, Jonathan Vaughters said his team’s constant attacks had stressed Van Garderen a bit mentally and physcially while his rider Vande Velde remained calm. Vande Velde came from behind in the final time trail in Denver to steal the overall from Van Garderen.
Then again, we at Twisted Spoke are always struck by the laid-back attitude Van Garderen exhibits at big races. We’ll never forget a Tour de France mountain stage a few years ago during Van Garderen’s Tour debut. The riders were exhausted at the summit but just after the stage Van Garderen looked so casual and relaxed that I wondered if he’d actually ridden over those four mountains. He had the totally unruffled demeanor of a true GC rider.
Our firm belief is that despite the fightening spirit of Cadel Evans, it will be Tejay Van Garderen in the captain’s role in the Alps the final week. That is certainly what wise man Jens Voigt thinks.