Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) heads into the crucial stages of the Volta a Catalunya in a mood of cautious optimism - cautious because of injuries from recent crashes, but optimistic about his overall form.
Van Garderen is also one of Catalunya's most experienced and successful racers of recent years. The BMC Racing Team rider triumphed at the now-cancelled stage finish of Vallter 2000 in 2014, finally placing third overall, his best ever finish in the Volta a Catalunya. He won again in Alp-La Molina, due to be tackled on stage 4 this year, in 2015. Last year, he led the Volta a Catalunya for two days.
History is on the American's side, but as van Garderen tells Cyclingnews at the start of stage 2 before the Vallter 2000 finish was cancelled, "I'm definitely not putting too much pressure on myself here."
Van Garderen says he "missed a little bit from Paris-Nice" which he abandoned after two crashes in quick succession, the second and more serious caused when he slammed into another team's car that had stopped to attend their own fallen riders. "And even between Paris-Nice and here," he says, "I had a little crash training, injured a rib.
"So that was some bad luck, but the overall shape is good. I want to aim for a top result here as best I can. But I'm not putting too much pressure on it."
As for the opposition in the race itself this year, van Garderen says simply that "Movistar are definitely in the driving seat. They have [Alejandro] Valverde and [Nairo] Quintana, between them I think they've won it three or four times. [Three - ed.] They've got home court advantage, too.
"Michelton-Scott have three cards to play as well"- Esteban Chaves and the Yates brothers. "There are a lot of people to watch."
Before stage 2, van Garderen was already dubious that the Vallter 200 stage would go forward: "First we have to see what the weather does, who knows if we're even going to be able to get up in the mountains," he said.
With the uncertainty about the weather, van Garderen says he prefers to take the race on day by day. On the plus side, he has had his injured rib x-rayed and overall feels upbeat about his chances. "There's a little bit of a crack in the rib, it's painful, it hurts but it's not a big injury, obviously it's not stopping me from riding here.
"This is a race I've done really well in in the past, and I'm motivated to be here. If I'm here it's not to sit in the bunch, if I'm here it's to race."
After the Volta a Catalunya, van Garderen will head to the Vuelta al País Vasco.
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