Oh la la la la. Tejay Van Garderen will blow off defending his Tour of California crown to follow the classic Tour de France build-up.
Instead of flying down the California coastline through Monterey and Santa Barbara, he’s going to go full-on French. Bah, c’est bien, mon pote. Faut quitter California pour gagner Le Tour! Bernard Hinault is tres happy.
Van Garderen, fifth in the 2012 Grand Shindig, will instead perfect his French with a race calendar that includes the cold and rainy Paris-Nice, then the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine.
That means that come July, van Garderen will be fluent in French and have his legs ready to test against Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali.
The old school approach comes via Allan Peiper, performance manager of BMC Racing. None of this hanging out in California on semi-vacation with Andy Schleck. That’s just not gonna cut the French Dijon.
Nope, Tejay is stepping up his preparation and showing his new leadership skills, too. With old man Cadel Evans planning to grind his way through the Giro d’Italia, van Garderen is the boss-man of the BMC Tour machine.
Which actually brings up the question, what is the supposedly re-dedicated Andy Schleck planning for his 2014 Tour de France build? In past years, Schleck the Younger preferred the adoring crowds, sunshine and lower expectations of a training block in Cali versus the Dauphine or Tour of Switzerland.
What he decides might be a revealing clue about how serious he is about the Tour. And whatever Andy does, Frank does — so California faces a triple loss — two Schlecks, one van Garderen.
One thing is for sure, van Garderen is taking no chances and he’s going all-in for the Tour. At the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado back in August, Tejay told Twisted Spoke that his TT is where it needs to be to become a Tour podium contender but that his climbing isn’t at the Froome-Quintana level.
He’ll be working on his climbing for months in France and his linguistic ability is sure to improve, too. Throw in a scarf, the occasional cigarette, a few old Johnny Halliday records and a paperback novel by André Gide and you’ve got yourself a Tour winner. Once on the podium, he’ll be able to switch gears smoothly from English to French.
Allez Tejay, Bienvenue en France, have some rabbit paté, monsieur.