- Tejay van Garderen
March 30, 2011, 21:57 BST,
March 31, 2011, 7:09 BST
Race radios and Alberto Contador's case punctuate my racing break
You want my answer to more exciting bike racing? More exciting courses. Plain and simple. The night time TTT in the Vuelta; cobbled stage at the Tour de France and Thousand Oaks in Tour of California. These races were awesome, exciting, and raced WITH radios. Give us more of those kinds of days, and we'll give you more exciting bike racing.
I'm sure my colleagues will hate me for saying that. After all, we like what you consider 'boring' days. Those are the days we get a break from all the stress, just getting sucked along in the draft on the flat roads. For as hard as we train outside of racing we love nothing more than to go easy during a race. The yellow jersey yelling 'pee break' is music to our ears. However, I will agree with you in saying those days make for boring television.
Now I'm not saying send us on death marches purely for the hope of seeing crashes. If that ends up being the case we will have no problem banding together and showing you the most boring race you've seen, like in the Giro 2009 and the Tour 2010 when the riders protested and rode easy because of unsafe courses.
We cyclists love a good chance to band together. I myself was a proud participant of the Mallorca standoff earlier this year. I was so proud of how unified we were. I even tried getting a little Twisted Sister chant going of 'we're not gonna take it'. Sadly no one joined me, but it would have been cool. Bottom line is we are sportsmen, not stuntmen. If you are watching cycling only in hope of seeing crashes, then I would kindly ask to turn your attention away from cycling and towards monster trucks, or something.
You guys want to see breakaways succeed? Put in more 'medium mountain' days. Riders tend to hate those days because they are so unpredictable. But it’s that unpredictability that saw Sylvain Chavanel take back yellow in the Tour last year; Lance Armstrong going for the stage win; Vino holding off the sprinters to the line and Haussler winning solo in the rain. All of which were exciting days, and all raced with radios.
Something else I've always wondered is why the cameras only start filming with 100km to go. If you want to catch the exciting parts of a race you need to film the first 50km and the last 50km, leave out the middle 50-100 boring kms. People only tune into bike races after the break is established. Then all they see are time gaps and they have no idea how or why THAT break got away.
And it’s that how or why that made it an exciting bike race, only you didn't get to see it. It's always my biggest pet-peeve when I lose GC hopes and my friends tell me 'you should just go in a breakaway'. They have no idea how hard it is to get into one of those damn things. Then once you're there you need to ride in the wind all day. Getting into breakaways sucks!
I'm going to go out on a limb and address the powers that be that govern our sport. Many of them, if they have raced, did so long before radios were introduced into cycling. So how do they know what's being said, or how they are being used? We've already raced without them for a good part of the season and nothing has changed, other than it taking a long time to change a flat (costing a lot of money to replace our carbon rims). In fact I don't think the UCI is even interested in how they are being used, having been so quick to shoot down the F1 idea of broadcasting the radio feed. Pat McQuaid did make a compelling argument however, I believe it was 'cycling is a story of people, and we want to keep it that way'. Can't argue with that logic. Anyways, if someone is going to be making a call on an issue such as this, I want it coming from a body or person with experience and expertise in the matter. Sorry, but at present that just isn’t happening at the UCI.
The Contador issue
A lot of people ask me my opinion on the Contador case. And to be quite honest, I have no idea what the answer is. All I can hope for is a speedy resolution, and I will respect whatever the result may be. I'm not one to hide my frustration when it comes to cheaters. The reason this is different isn't because it's a rider who’s won five Grand Tours, it's because 'what the hell is clenbuterol'? I've never heard if it before now, and the tainted meat thing scares me. I will admit, when I first heard about it my reaction was to tell Alberto to turn that pistol around at himself. However, that night at dinner I found myself opting for the fish rather than the steak. I also suspect this has at least partly contributed to Dave Zabriskie becoming a vegan. That and the fact that Dave is, well, Dave. Don't get me wrong, Dave and I are good friends, I really like the guy, but he's ridiculous at times nonetheless.
Furthermore there seems to be a lot of stories coming out in recent news about people being cleared for clenbuterol. So it’s just really hard to tell if these guys are getting away with murder, or I really should throw down the extra cash for the organic grass fed beef. So because I have no idea, I find its best to keep my mouth shut and leave it for the adults to decide, and for me to respect their decision.
- Tejay van Garderen
January 25, 2011, 23:56 GMT,
January 26, 2011, 15:16 GMT
Van Garderen chimes in on the radio ban
Happy 2011 everyone. It's nice to be able to turn the page on 2010. 2010 was a big year for me personally as well as the team. I started out the year pretty tight lipped, worried of becoming that neo that stepped out of line. By the middle of the year I was much more comfortable and was making fun of everyone. Here is a little look back on some highlights of the things I made fun of my teammates for in 2010.
-Cavendish walking around the bus naked yelling "where's me f***ing DZ-Nuts?"
-Bert Grabsch for singing "it's raining men" before the Dauphine prologue.
-Lars Bak for having 1,000 names
-Lars Bak for being Danish
Over the winter I had some fun traveling around, drinking wine, eating out, going to Las Vegas, riding the mountain bike, shopping, as well as spending time with friends and family. Now, though, the season is close on the horizon. All of the above have been scaled down and it's back into the routine of being an athlete. It's sad that I've had to stop with the mountain biking now that I am back in Europe. The skills really do go away if not practiced, and I don't mean to brag but I was getting very mediocre.
Our first camp is out of the way, and now we are halfway through the second. It is fun to see everyone returning from last year, and it is great to see all of the new faces. It was a bit sad to see so many names missing from last year, nine in total. But there are some good new additions to the team that will certainly add character to the team. Surely a few (if not all…) will make it to the list of people getting made fun of throughout 2011.
A few key notes that I've learned upon getting to know the new mates. I'm not going to be able to understand a word of our new Irish teammate Matt Brammeier. He claims his first language is English but I don't believe him. Also Gatis Smukulis is the most flexible person in the world. This 6-foot-tall Latvian, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the incredible hulk, can do the splits easier than most of us can twiddle our thumbs. His limberness is best displayed on the dance floor where he was without a doubt the life of the party (and the heartthrob of all the young girls of our HTC women's team).
I'm glad to see a couple more Americans on the team with Danny Pate and Caleb Fairly. Both will make super strong additions to the team, and also give me a few more guys who understand my American sense of humor.
I more or less know what my race schedule is now. There was talk earlier of me aiming for the Giro, but we decided California was going to be my first big focus for the year. So now I have an outside chance of making the Tour, which is exciting, but I won't hold my breath. It's a hard selection to make and there are never any guarantees.
So here is what I have to look forward to; Challenge Mallorca, Vuelta Algarve, Paris Nice, Vuelta Catalunya, Vuelta Pais Vasco, Fleche Wallone, Liege Bastonge Liege, Tour of California, Something, the Tour maybe. This really is a big boy schedule, no "easy messing around races". This also means it may be a bit harder for me to pick up results, but I think I'm ready to rise to the challenge.
So that brings me to the radios, I'm not sure if it really does but I couldn't write a blog without voicing my opinion on this pertinent issue. As you may have read on Twitter, I am for keeping them. I also don't think it turns us into drones by having them. Or at least that's what my director just told me to say via radio. In all seriousness though, none of us are thickheaded robots simply following orders.
Bike racing back before radios was still raced the same way it is now. If you guys are hoping for more attacks like Oscar Pereiro, who in 2006 gained a half hour and stole the tour from all the frontrunners, I think you will be disappointed. We will still be getting time checks from the motor bikes and the breaks will come back the way they always have, barring a few unusual circumstances. To be frank I would be upset if cycling were raced that way. I would rather see the GC men duking it out on epic climbs or in time trials and not lose the tour because, "oh shit, we did even know that guys was up there." I can get behind imposing a ban for time trials only, but not on the road.
I know cyclists like to complain a lot about how hard their lives are, but I am not one of those cyclists. I love my job, I love riding, I love traveling and racing, and as professionals we get compensated for it. But the one thing I will say, and I don't think anyone will disagree, is that this job is stressful. Most people have never experienced the stress of hearing a crash that just happened two wheels behind you and not knowing if one of your mates went down, or the stress of getting a flat tire and watching the peloton ride away from you. Or the stress of defending a leaders jersey and not knowing if a GC threat just snuck into the break.
The people who never experienced any of that are the ones making the decisions to impose the ban. I understand that some people don't care what any of us think because, after all, we are only out there for entertainment and to make the sponsors happy. However, I strongly feel this is an issue that should be decided by the athletes. And over 90% of them would say to keep the radios.
- Tejay van Garderen
November 01, 2010, 16:36 GMT,
November 01, 2010, 16:54 GMT
Tejay finds inspiration for 2011 season
It’s been a while since my last blog for Cyclingnews and so much has happened since we last caught up. I'll admit that my schedule hasn't been the only reason for my radio silence in the last few weeks. I guess a scathing review from someone on the Twitteratti scared me out of the blog writing process. After thinking it over I realized, as long as I make myself laugh who gives a crap about what the gods of Twitter say. On with the show...
So I finished my first Grand Tour, which was as every bit as hard as I imagined it would be. I rode my first elite Worlds, which was entertaining because I was rooming with the nutty Dave Z. It was cold out there in Australia so most of our time was spent inside the hotel room watching Kenny Powers, Kick Ass, and quoting The Big Lebowski. Now I'm enjoying what I feel is a well deserved off season after my first season in the ProTour ranks.
So far my off season has consisted of, but not limited to: beer, mountain bikes, wine, food, becoming a licensed driver, spending too much money, and hanging out with family friends and my girlfriend.
I just had a chat with the coach to start gearing up for next season. It’s crazy how the month of October tends to slip through your fingers. But after our chat I'm starting to get excited. And as I write this blog I'm watching the Shaun White bio on Universal Sports. I'm convinced that this guy has the answer to the winning formula. That guy has the radness/confidence/down to earthiness - I'm not sure that’s a word either - only seen by true champions.
Dave and I at Worlds were trying to find the eye of the tiger. Apollo had it all wrong in Rocky 3. I think we would have been smarter to dye our hair red and pierce our ears. That's the difference between wanting to be a champion and actually being a champion. Go Shaun 2014!
And for those of you wondering, I'm still undecided whether or not I'm going to take part in No Shave November. I'm just not sure I have the proper genes to grow a moustache or beard. I think I'm just going to be man enough (or boy enough) to admit that I'm no Hugh Jackman.
Next up I've got the HTC training camp in the US. Catch you soon.
- Tejay van Garderen
September 03, 2010, 0:35 BST,
September 03, 2010, 1:46 BST
Team time trials, spats and sprints at the Vuelta
So we kicked ass in the team time trial, that was pretty rad! It was just nice to get the race started after three days in Spain riding two hours a day in 45-degree (Celsius) heat, then sitting all day in the hotel room bored with the aircon on full blast.
There were some pretty intense moments before and after the ttt. Before the race Cav was off his chops yelling at everyone, then two seconds later he would apologise, tell us he loved us, and tell us we were going to win as long as we didn't cock it up. Well, he was right, and we didn't cock it up.
After some serious nail biting listening to the split times of all the other teams comming in we knew we had done it once Cervélo crossed the line. I'm sure the screams from our bus woke a few people up in the next town. What a start to my first Grand Tour!
It was hard to get to sleep that night after all the excitment. The team gathered in Hayden's and my hotel room for a beer to celebrate. Nothing special, just pulled the Heinikens from the mini-bar. Then we popped a sleeping pill to take the edge off and fell asleep at around 2am. I think all ttt's should be at night. However, I don't want to start doing mass events in the dark. Please.
I was looking forward to the start of the stage two, the first road stage, but once out there it was so hot everyone was getting loopy. Normally in the routine of the race, the break goes, and there is a moment where all the riders relax, eat, drink, pee, and chat. Only today nobody was being social.
Anytime I would try to talk to someone all I would get was a grunt or a wheez. I went up to Dave Zabriskie to say hey and he stright up told me, "It's good to see you man, but I can't breathe right now so you're gonna have to shut up."
It was difficult to focus, and that was evident when two of our guys crashed on a descent while riding the front in defense of Cav's red jersey. The heat also takes a huge toll on the immune system. Lots of riders were falling ill, and sadly we had to say goodbye to Bernie (the Donkey) Eisel.
The peloton seemed to be in a bit of disarray with Bernie missing. Anyone who knows Bernie knows that the peloton belongs to him; he keeps people in line. When you saw the team that was pulling early in the stage today you could tell Bernie wasn't there. Things just started making less sense.
Luckily it's cooled down a bit in the last couple days, meaning its gone from 45 degrees Celsius to 39 degrees, but it still has been anything but easy. Stage four saw a bunch of the GC guys feeling each other out and stretching their legs. Even heavy hitters like Sastre lost some big time.
The major GC days are still to come but I'm sure a lot of guys are still going to be feeling a bit of a sting from this first week. Tomorrow is a good chance for a bunch sprint, so we will try to do a better job delivering Cav to the final 200 metres. As for the GC, Peter and I are sitting in a good position and are both motivated. We'll try to stay up there as long as we can.
By the way, Hayden and I were just saying how much we love this time of night. After dinner when everything is over and you can just sit with the TV, computer, book, cell, ipod or whatever and have no stress for an hour. The simple pleasures.
- Tejay van Garderen
August 26, 2010, 18:09 BST,
August 26, 2010, 19:25 BST
HTC-Columbia star takes on first grand tour
It’s been an exciting season so far. Full of highs and lows, but luckily in my case it’s been mostly highs. I feel like I’ve aged a lot over these past eight months. Everything used to be so easy for me, living in a cycling house in Belgium where everything was taken care of for me, or with family in Holland where they to would take care of everything for me.
Now my situation is different and I’ve had to grow up a lot. I found my own apartment in Lucca, Italy, bought my own furniture (I have a love hate relationship with Ikea, mostly hate), and getting internet set up (which still actually doesn't work). All in a foreign country and in a language I don't speak. I remember being stressed out, barely having time to train some days, cold at night because we couldn't figure out how to turn on the heat/hot water, and taking cold showers after a riding in zero degree temperatures. I remember wanting to go home. Luckily my girlfriend was a trooper and helped me with everything. And we had some friends in town that helped us learn the system.
I knew I had a good base of training from the winter and from the team training camps, but with all these other factors I was going into the first part of the year thinking I couldn't be disappointed if things didn't go well. It may take a bit of time to get things sorted out before the success on the bike comes. It didn't take long before I found my groove in the Vuelta Algarve where I rode to a top 10 finish and a 5th place on the summit of the Milhao, a stage won my Alberto Contador. I just found that even though I was pretty lost as far as my personal life went, I still knew how to race my bike.
I remember telling the team directors last October that I was interested in racing the Vuelta. In my mind the Vuelta is the best 'Grandy, as in what all my Aussie friends call a grand tour for a neo-pro. It’s more relaxed than the Giro or Tour; the stages are shorter; roads wider and a lot of guys come here with Worlds on their mind and not necessarily the need to be going full gas at the moment.
I had a lot of mixed reactions from both riders and staff over my participation in the Spanish Tour. First of all there was a ton of rider who wanted to race, both for GC and for Worlds prep. So I was up against some heavy hitters for a slot. Then is was the fact that I'm a neo-pro and the fear that three weeks of racing is just too much for my 22-year-old body to handle. This was the position taken by Michel Rogers, who told me to wait until next year, while other riders from the team were telling me to "just go for it". I took all the advice to heart, but I knew that if given the chance there was no way I would turn it down.
It wasn't until the last day of the Dauphine, right before I was about to head to the start line, that Allen Peiper took me aside and told me, ‘you got the nod, we're pulling you out of the Tour of Austria so you can rest, train, and prepare properly for the Vuelta’. That was the perfect morale boost to propel me through the last stage.
After the Dauphine I took nine days to completely unwind, and in that time I didn't even touch my bike. I flew my 16-year-old sister, Chaney, to Italy. We had a much needed and well deserved break. I needed a break from racing, and she needed one after her sophomore year of high school. We went to some beaches, went out to dinners, drank a lot of wine (perfectly legal for her in Italy) and went sightseeing in Florence and Cinque Terra.
As a bike racers we spend most of the year in Europe but rarely get the chance to do the tourist thing, so we were taking full advantage in the short time we had. Hopefully it opened my sister’s eyes a bit to the world beyond that of Fort Collins, Colorado.
Once vacation time was over it was back to business. I packed up the car with my girlfriend, Jessica Phillips, and we headed to the Dolomites for an altitude training camp. My team wanted me to come into the Vuelta fresh so they gave me a pretty light race schedule leading into it. I only eight days of racing, but that also meant I needed to train more. I was getting good quality training hours, and weaned myself back into the 'regime' (what cyclists say when they are getting serious about training, diet, and sleep).
It’s a hard thing to do after a break, having the taste and smell of off-season pleasure in the air, but given the chance to race a grandy was motivation enough. We had a great time riding together in the Dolomites. I'm lucky to have a super talented (two-time national champion) girlfriend, so we are able to do a lot of rides together.
My first race back was San Sebastian, a super hard one day classic in Basque country which gave me a much needed kick in the ass after not racing for six weeks. That was followed up by Tour de l'Ain, a four-day race in France with short intense stages and a fair bit of climbing.
It was a good morale boost and I placed fourth, picking up the best young rider’s jersey. Then I had a few one day races in Italy just to sharpen up the form.
Now here in Sevilla, I’m just waiting until Saturday, or Sunday depending what time out team starts (first team off at 10pm). I wish I could say with all confidence that I'm ready to go, but I have no idea what it really takes, having never done one these before. But as I'm sure you guys can tell by reading this, I'm not a guy lacking in self-confidence and I will just go ahead and say it: I'M READY!!!
As far as my goals for the race, first and foremost I want to make it to Madrid. There are some hard stages early on and I plan to fight to stay high up on GC for as long as possible. If one day I see I am completely out of contention then I will just wait for the gruppetto and start looking for breaks.
However the team is being great in giving me a 'free roll' so I don't have to do too much work on the flat stages for the sprint, so I want to honor that by giving it a good honest fight.
- Tejay van Garderen
September 29, 2009, 18:02 BST,
September 30, 2009, 15:17 BST
Tejay and his U23 teammates ready for a challenging day in Mendrisio
Tejay Van Garderen and his four American teammates approached the U23 world championship road race on Saturday in Mendrisio, Switzerland with high hopes.
"We have a winning team. We have a strategy and a good idea of what we're going to do."
Headed to the road race.
America is high rolling on the Highroad bus this week.
- Tejay van Garderen
Follow American Tejay van Garderen's (HTC-Highroad) exclusive Cyclingnews blog
22-year-old van Garderen, had a stellar 2010 debut season in the ProTour ranks and finished third at the Dauhpine in June and coming in 35th place overall in his debut Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana.
In 2009 he finished second overall at the Tour de l'Avenir.
Van Garderen spent the 2008-2009 seasons racing for the Dutch Rabobank Continental team. Winner in 2009 of France's Tour du Haut Anjou and the final stage of the Netherlands' Olympia's Tour (plus second overall).