Tejay Van Garderen and his HTC-Highroad teammates will have their hands full defending the yellow jersey during the final four stages at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The young American is leading the general classification heading into the stage three time trial held in Vail and he is confident in his ability to win the 16km uphill event.
"I have a lot of confidence in my team," Van Garderen said. "I don't think that we have the strongest team on paper here but I think that once you have the yellow jersey you can see your teammates get more motivated and they can ride above and beyond their ability once they have the goal of winning the jersey. I expect that is what is going to happen here. I haven't ridden the time trial course yet but it looks like a time trial that suits my ability."
Van Garderen rode into a late-race breakaway over the final ‘queen' stage two ascent over Independence Pass. His breakaway companions included stage winner George Hincapie (BMC Racing), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo), Eduard Beltran (EPM-UNE), Janier Acevedo (Gobernacion de Antioquia) and Bruno Pires (Leopard Trek).
"I think in order to go for the overall you have to take chances on stage wins and because there are time bonuses available," Van Garderen said.
The small group descended a wet and technical drop off of the mountain and into the finish line in Aspen. Van Garderen finished second in the stage and earned a six-second time bonus, moving into the overall race lead.
"It was definitely a special feeling to see the crowds and to have my girlfriend and her family here," Van Garderen said. "I spend a lot of time in Aspen and I couldn't have picked a better day to take the jersey because I have a lot of fans and friends here, it was special."
He leads the race ahead of four of his fellow countrymen. Hincapie is sitting in second place 16 seconds back followed by Danielson 22 seconds back, Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) 34 seconds back and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) 45 seconds back.
"It seems like a course that doesn't require a whole lot of thought because it doesn't seem technical and it doesn't seem like there are corners or a lot of turns and no real recovery section," said Van Garderen who won the Tour of Utah stage three time trial two weeks ago. "You just have to pick your pace and go with it and try to stay relaxed and focused."
"I have a lot of confidence having won the time trial in Utah and I am looking forward to it," he said. "I can't say that because I won Utah that I will win in Vail but I feel good about it. I think my performance in the Utah time trial will translate well on a course like the one in Vail. I'm a good climber and a good time trialer and good at doing one pace and one rhythm."