BMC has confirmed that Tejay van Garderen will follow what they describe as a ‘classic’ race programme as he builds towards the Tour de France in July. It means that the American, who finished fifth in the race in 2012 and picked up the white jersey as the best young rider, will not defend his title in the Tour of California in May.
Instead, van Garderen will lock horns with the likes of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) at Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine.
"It's all Tour de France oriented but he won’t be going to the Tour of California," Allan Peiper, performance manager of BMC Racing confirmed to Cyclingnews.
"Instead he’ll be doing the classic build up to the Tour de France with Dauphine, Romandie and Paris-Nice. He has the weight on his shoulders for 2014 and he realises that. With a good programme in place and a good structure he should be firing on all pistons for the big event."
Van Garderen won his first stage race this May in California, claiming the individual time trial on stage 6 and holding off the challenge of former winner Michael Rogers (Saxo Bank). However, van Garderen faltered at the Tour de France and despite a brave second placed on an epic stage to Alpe d’Heuz, he finished 45th in the general classification.
He rallied in the second half of the year to win a stage and the overall title at the USA Pro Challenge but the Tour was a disappointment for the 25 year old.
Peiper has helped structure a number of riders' race schedules and agreed that it was increasingly hard for a rider to peak for both California and the Tour de France.
"I think that’s a fair thing to say, especially if you want to win in California and peak for the Tour, because that’s a short period and it's a natural resting time."
Phinney fights for his Tour de France place
One rider who could join van Garderen on the Tour de France start line in Yorkshire next summer is the time trial specialist Taylor Phinney. The 23-year-old has started the Giro in the last two seasons and had a breakthrough win in the opening prologue in 2012. This year he was forced out through injury but came back strongly to win a stage in the Tour de Pologne and place fifth in the Worlds time trial.
Peiper believes that Phinney can challenge for a place on BMC's Tour de France squad but admitted that the young American must fight for his place and prove that he can perform consistently.
"He would like to do the Tour and I think he's old enough and has the depth but it’s going to be up to him to show that he’s ready for it," Peiper told Cyclingnews.
"In his category of riders, as a domestique, okay there’s the long time trial and the Roubaix stage, but helping van Garderen in our prime objective. Taylor has to show us that he's a stable rider and showing us that he has the form to get Tour de France selection. It's the same criteria for everyone else though."
Phinney, Peiper added, lacked a level of consistency in 2013. He finished third in the Tour of Qatar and claimed an impressive seventh in a memorable edition of Milan-San Remo. However his injury hit Giro forced him onto the sidelines and despite his stage win in Poland he could not reach the level that saw him win silver in last year’s Worlds time trial.
"I think he has lacked the consistency, but there have maybe been a few different reasons behind that. What we do want him to do is focus more on his time trials as that’s his specialty," said Peiper.
"We do want him to be ready for the Classics, especially Paris-Roubaix and the rest of the flat Classics as they’re the things that he can do well in. There are two objectives that we want him to focus on next year, the time trials and the flat Classics. That time trialing has to go right through the season and he’s aware of that responsibility within the team. He needs to prove to us that he’s ready to go to the Tour de France and that he's ready to step up as it were."
"He had some good results but they were very sporadic and for a rider of his calibre and at his stage of development he has to be more there. Again in his defence he was in the Giro and had a problem with his groin. It was a major problem that could have affected his career if it wasn't taken care of, and that basically took him out until he started to come back at the Tour of Poland. His prep for the end of the season wasn't ideal with the saddle sore and that jeopardised the second part of his season that also involved the words."
Phinney will have more responsibility in the Classics in 2014 having ridden his first elite edition of Paris-Roubaix this season, and Peiper is expecting a strong start from his rider if he is to gain a Tour de France slot.
"He realises that he needs to get off to a good start, focus on the time trials, right from January and have a big push for the Classics. Then he can take time to prepare for the Tour de France and possible selection. He realises that he doesn’t have a sure-fire place in the Tour and that he’s going to have to fight for his position."