Versatile American to protect team leaders
Tejay Van Garderen will ride this year’s Tour de France as a domestique deluxe for sprinter Mark Cavendish and the overall aspirations of Tony Martin and Peter Velits. The American believes the experience will help him become a stronger Tour de France contender in the future.
The 22-year-old was told about his Tour de France selection three days ago when team director Rolf Aldag called him at his European base in Italy. Despite a strong start to his second season as a professional Van Garderen was vying with the likes of Michael Albasini, Alex Rasmussen and Bert Grabsch for a slot in HTC-Highroad’s final line-up.
“I’ll be pulling back some breaks for Cavendish on the flat but the reason they’ve brought me in is because I’m also versatile for the flat and the mountains so if Tony or Peter is up there on GC, then I can help them out too,” Van Garderen told Cyclingnews.
“There might be one or two stages that I can pick out for breaks and try something for myself but I’m not going for GC.”
“My role will be similar to the one Maxime Monfort had last year with the team. Grabsch is having some problems with sickness and if he’d been fit and selected he would have been one of the key guys to help bring breaks back. Now it’s going to take pretty much two guys to do what he did last year and the year before.”
Van Garderen participated in last year’s Vuelta, making his grand tour debut, and despite a promising first half he faded in the final week. However, he sees this year’s Tour de France as a stepping stone, having already made several statements of intent regarding a future as a grand tour contender.
“At my age it’s more about getting the Tour experience. If I had gone to the Tour for GC at 100 per cent and had my head kicked in during the third week that could be a bit demoralising for someone my age. I think it’s a good idea to go there with a bit less pressure on my personally because that way I get the experience and then I can think about GC in the future.”
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