Tejay van Garderen (BMC) finished more than two minutes down on race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) after a dramatic stage 5 of the Tour de France that was akin to a wet mini-edition of Paris-Roubaix.
The American rolled home in a group that also included Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and world champion Rui Costa (Movistar), arriving just behind fellow American Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp). Van Garderen is now placed twelfth overall at 2:11 from race leader Nibali.
Not many riders found the energy to get back on the bike after the finish but the mud-clad BMC rider was spotted warming down at his team bus, while the rain kept pouring down in Arenberg. Van Garderen reflected on his general classification ambitions with a sigh.
“It could’ve been worse, could’ve been better. I’ve just got to look forward,” he said.
The 25-year-old endured a very rough day. The blood on his knee showed the signs of the crash which occurred on a roundabout 70 kilometres from the finish, shortly before the first cobbled sector. It was in the same zone that last year’s Tour de France winner Chris Froome abandoned.
“With the cobbles we were running lower pressure in the tyres which has a bit of a different feeling. My rear wheel just got away from me."
Van Garderen has never ridden Paris-Roubaix and his only experience on the cobbles came during a recon in which he tested all of the pavé sectors of this stage. He even added the famous Arenberg forest to his recon ride. Back then it was dry but during stage five of the Tour de France the cobbles were doused in rain and slick mud.
Even though he didn’t crash on the cobbles, the American felt that the profile of this stage didn’t fit in the Tour de France.
“It was insane. I heard Froome is out of the Tour. You guys got your drama but it takes the whole race down a notch when you have a big favourite who is now out. In theory it can make the race less exciting towards the end. I think the ASO, they need to rethink putting things like this in the race,” he said.
He later retracted his statements on Twitter, saying, "Now that I've had a chance to cool off, I'd like to apologize for what I said to NBC. Today was an epic day of bike racing!"