After a strong ride on stage 3 of the Tour de San Luis, Tejay van Garderen finds himself in solid position in the overall classification. Although there are two mountain top finishes remaining in the race, the BMC captain was able to hold onto the coattails of his major rivals on the first mountain test and with Thursday's 19.2 kilometre time trial, he is within touching distance of the lead.
Van Garderen finished fifth on the 173 kilometre stage, 25 seconds adrift of the winner Alex Diniz (Funvic Brasilinvest). Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali lost 48 seconds and 1:51, respectfully, leaving Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) and van Garderen as the likely contenders. However Diniz stated that he would go on the attack in the mountains and with just over a minute still separating the top 20 riders in GC the race is far from over.
"I was surprised to see some of the guys dropped, like Contador because his team was pretty active all day," van Garderen said at the finish.
"I was equally surprised to see Van Den Broeck up there today because he usually comes into form a little later in the year and his team wasn't the most active. But going into the time trial, today was a pretty successful day."
Heading towards the final climb of the day BMC joined forces with Astana and Saxo Bank in driving the pace, only allowing Diniz' opportunist move to break clear.
"I just wanted to take it as it came and see who was active and who wasn't. If there was a chance I'd take it but if nothing else I wanted to stay close the leaders for the time trial. We still have a time-trial and two mountain stages to come and you can't tell too much from today but the overall is possible."
Mathias Frank and Dominik Nerz both worked van Garderen into position on the final climb before the ultimate selection.
"They were the first long climbs of the season and some of the guys here are already in such good shape," Frank said.
"We kept our leader out of trouble up until the final climb and then he took over with around 3 kilometres. I've got a bit of a cold so had to pull up a little bit earlier than planned."