Sky tactics take Van Garderen by surprise

As a nervous first week at the 2012 Tour de France comes to a close, the two biggest rivals for general classification honours have been taking stock.

Sky, one man down after Kanstantsin Siutsou was forced out with a broken left tibia, and juggling the intentions of Bradley Wiggins and world champion Mark Cavendish went on the offensive on Stage 5, more active at the front of the peloton. BMC meanwhile, have been attentive just slightly behind the front of the chase, with the fortunes of defending champion Cadel Evans their primary concern. The change from the British team on Thursday surprised BMC's Tejay van Garderen for one.

"It seems like with Cav' in the team, comes a lot of responsibility and if you're the best sprinter in the world and if you don't want to pull, then chances are you're not going to get a bunch sprint," said the American who's enjoyed six days as the Tour's best young rider.

"It's just a respect thing with Cav that they have to pull if they want the world champion to win."

One sprint stage remains on Friday before a slight reshuffle of the general classification is expected on the 199km medium mountain stage to La Planche des Belles Filles.

BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue admits that Saturday's stage 7 is "not the most difficult day" but significant nonetheless with the change in tempo as the peloton heads into the Vosges in the Rhine Valley.

"It will be the first big difference," he admitted.

BMC has adapted over the first week, "riding like a sprinter's team," said Lelangue, in order to avoid the risks which become greater the further into the peloton a team falls back. He believes that Evans' title defence is in good hands for now.

"He looks relaxed and he looks confident," Lelangue said of the Australian. "We still have the whole team here, nobody has crashed - except Philippe Gilbert on Stage 3 - but it was no problem. So I think we can be happy.

"If you look at the first week of the Tour it's always a bit of risky business," he continued. "So being in this situation is not a bad one at the moment."

Lelangue would not be drawn however, on whether his team is advantaged by the fortune of having all nine men still in the race.

"I just consider my team for the moment."


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