BMC’s joy at Greg Van Avermaet’s stage victory and ascent to the race lead on the penultimate day of Tirreno-Adriatico was tempered by designated team leader Tejay van Garderen losing all hope of final overall victory when he was caught up in a crash in the finale.
Van Garderen was among the riders held up by a crash with 5 kilometres remaining, as a lined-out peloton battled to pull back the eight-man winning move, which featured Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep).
Although van Garderen avoided falling in the incident, a broken spoke left him requiring mechanical assistance and he was unable to latch back onto the main peloton. The American rolled across the line 1:20 down on the stage, losing all hope of a high finish on general classification.
Van Garderen had begun the day in 4th place overall, just 9 seconds off the lead and very much in the hunt for final victory despite the cancellation of Sunday’s summit finish due to heavy snow. He now lies 26th overall, 1:32 behind Van Avermaet.
“Luckily I didn’t go down but I had to take a wheel change and couldn’t quite get back with the peloton. Taylor Phinney and Alessandro De Marchi did a great job of trying to pace me back but sometimes that’s just how it goes,” van Garderen said in a statement issued by his BMC team.
Tirreno-Adriatico was the first major target of van Garderen’s season and he vowed to maintain his motivation for Tuesday’s short, concluding time trial at San Benedetto del Tronto.
“I’ll stay motivated and focused for the ITT tomorrow,” he said. “Hopefully Greg can record a really good one. It would be amazing for him to win Tirreno-Adriatico. I don’t think anyone would have predicted this as the situation we would be in at this stage of the race with the events of yesterday and now today. But at the end it’s a huge success and I’ll stay focused for tomorrow and for the rest of the season.”
BMC had begun the day with three riders – Van Avermaet, van Garderen and Damiano Caruso – within 9 seconds of the overall lead, but with Caruso also losing 46 seconds on the stage, the teams podium hopes rest squarely on Van Avermaet.
“On one hand, we are very, very happy with the victory and the race lead of Greg but on the other hand we are disappointed because we had the chance to finish with three guys in the top five,” directeur sportif Valerio Piva said. “Now, of course, we have the race lead and we’ll try to defend this position tomorrow.”