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Tejay van Garderen (BMC) had a tough day yesterday. Will he bounce back on the road to Bagnères-de-Bigorre
No answers for American's dismal form
Van Garderen came into the Tour with high ambitions but his bid for a second white jersey and competitive result in the overall classification crumbled on the first mountain stage to Aix 3 Domaines. Stage 9 to Bagnères-De-Luchon saw the American trail home even further adrift, although a brief attempt to escape into a break gave the rider and his team hope that he could still rescue something from the race.
"It was rough. I tried going into a breakaway but it didn't work so I just tried to survive to the finish," van Garderen told Cyclingnews after he wheeled to a standstill on stage 9.
"Right now I'm just looking forward to the rest day. Obviously right now this Tour isn't going our way but we're going to keep trying to ride aggressively and then salvage what we can from the Tour."
Crashes in the opening first week have been contributing factors but van Garderen is still unsure as to how and why his form as deserted him at the Tour. A win in the Tour of California in May brought home a debut stage race title and appeared to an indication that a Tour offensive as successful as the one of 2012 could be possible.
"I'm not sure [what's wrong]. I've been talking to my coach and trying to pinpoint it. I might have an answer for you after the race," he told Cyclingnews.
"I came into the race feeling fit and strong and read to go. These last couple of days obviously it's not been the race but hopefully I can bounce back and make something happen."
Better news for BMC was the sight of Cadel Evans holding Chris Froome and the Movistar led-group over the major climbs. The Australian still sits down in 16th place in GC but moved up from an overnight starting point of 23rd.
Still, team manager Jim Ochowicz was still unsure as to why van Garderen had been off the pace in the Pyrenees.
"We think it could be a little bit of fatigue from the two crashes he had but I don't know. Everyone reacts differently to injuries. His looks small but he's got about eight different places where he's got things going on and that takes its toll on the riders in the weather when it's this hot. That's the only explanation that we have right now."
At over 35 minutes down in the race for yellow van Garderen's only hand will be to race for a stage win, although he will surely have to help Evans too. With Monday's rest day one thing Ochowicz won't consider is the American leaving the race.
"That's not in my mind and I don't think it's in his," he stated. "Any medical decisions that are made are made by the team doctor, not by me or the rider, generally speaking. I don't Tejay is in that state where he's damaging himself for future races this year by staying in the race, at this point. It's about recovery and we have some flatter stages to come.
"We changed our strategy last night and we discussed with the whole group where we're going to go from here. The GC is still something we're going to try and get to although we don't think we can get to the top."