Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is taking each day as it comes at this year’s Tour de France, after suffering four crashes during the opening week of the race. After enjoying a calm day inside the peloton on stage 9, van Garderen is looking to move himself back into GC contention.
"I think we’re not going to put everything into one day," van Garderen told Cyclingnews at the finish of stage 9 in Mulhouse. "We're just going to stay the course and keep chipping away and move up day-by-day, as and when we get the opportunity to, and just stay calm. We have two weeks to make up the time."
The Tour de France has been a cruel mistress for van Garderen this year. Crashes and injury have meant that he has lost time to his rivals on three of the last four stages. The terrain on Sunday’s stage was a tough one, but the pace set by Astana made for a relatively relaxed day in the peloton. Heading into some sterner tests next week, van Garderen has put the disappointments behind him.
"The morale is still high, the legs are still good. I'm missing a little bit of skin but you know, I think a lot of people are," said van Garderen. "We're just fine. The morale is high, the spirit is high and we're looking forward to moving up on GC and fighting for the next few weeks."
Tomorrow sees the riders return to La Planche des Belles Filles, which first featured in 2012 and was won by Chris Froome (Sky). It is deceptively listed as a category one climb, but has sections that reach up to an energy-draining 28 per cent. Three other first category climbs are dotted throughout the route, along with a smattering of second and third category ascents.
In 2012, van Garderen went into the stage wearing the white jersey, but would have to hand it over to Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis). The American was dropped early in the climb and would eventually lose three minutes to Froome. He went on to take back the white jersey two days later in the Besançon time trial and would take it all the way to Paris. Second time around, he's prepared for it.
"It's hard, I remember it from 2012 and it's definitely a hard climb and it's going to shake up the GC, but I think I'm ready and I think the boys are ready," van Garderen said to Cyclingnews. "I think there'll be a lot of attacks from Contador trying to distance Nibali. I think Porte might give it a go. Any GC guy is going to be up there."