Tour de France

Van Garderen looks to emerge

2014-07-03 16:30
Tejay Van Garderen (Getty Images)

Leeds - There will be no hiding place for young American rider Tejay van Garderen when the Tour de France begins in Leeds on Saturday.

The 25-year-old will lead the BMC team in the absence of 2011 winner Cadel Evans as they look to improve on a disappointing showing last year.

General manager Jim Ochowicz had no qualms appointing him as his No.1 for the Tour while Van Garderen appears comfortable with his new-found responsibility.

"Based on past results I think I have the right to be the leader, but we are not going into the race as favourites. This is a stepping stone for others years," he told a news conference in Leeds on Thursday as the city welcomed the Tour circus.

"I think my team mates have a lot of respect for me and faith in me and are happy to get behind me. It's certainly a huge honour and I'm looking forward to it.

"It's comforting to know all the guys have my back."

Van Garderen caused a sensation two years ago when he beat Evans in the general classification, finishing fifth And taking the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider.

Last year proved a difficult race for the team in general as Evans, with whom Van Garderen shared team leader responsibilities, struggled badly, but the American says a "new team dynamic" means a podium spot is up for grabs this time.

"I see (Chris) Froome as the favourite then (Alberto) Contador but beyond that I see lot of guys the same level fighting for a spot on the podium," he said.

"We've learned a lot from last year. Having one GC (general classification) leader as opposed to two, is a change in the programme. I think we'll see the benefits this year."

Having eight riders supporting him during the three-week long test of endurance has many benefits, but also puts the spotlight firmly on a rider, who along with injured team mate Taylor Phinney and Garmin Sharp's Andrew Talansky is part of a new generation of American cyclists trying to emerge from the shadow of the Lance Armstrong era.

"Pressure is a made up thing," he said. "When you get to the base of a mountain you just have to ride up it.

"When you are a neo pro no one really notices if you have a bad race but if you have a good race it's like you're the next big thing, so it's all positive.

"When you get your name out there people start noticing if you have bad race so it's learning to deal with it.

"I've got a lot of confidence but a also a lot of modesty. I'm not expecting to go and ride past Chris Froome on the first mountain. I'm not expecting miracles but if I ride within myself I can ride really high into Paris."

Ochowicz said leading the team would be a steep learning curve for Van Garderen but predicted big things for the Montana-based rider.

"It's a learning curve because not only will he be team leader of a group on the road but he'll also have his own preparations for day-to-day survival.

"But he's at the upper echelon of American cyclists and the good thing is he is 25 and he has 10 years left in him.

"It's exciting to see the progression he has made with us. His career is still in its infancy."

Read more on:    tdf  |  cycling
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