Van Garderen backs Sayers after controversial comments

BMC Racing Team's Tejay Van Garderen Thursday addressed a controversial comment made by assistant team director Mike Sayers after the stage 3 finish in Aspen on Wednesday.

Sayers ignited a social media firestorm when he implied a derogatory comment about women's racing to illustrate a point while talking with Cyclingnews after the race. Speaking about rival ProTour team RadioShack-Nissan's relatively passive style of racing throughout the first three stages, Sayers said, "I think they forgot that the women's race is later in the week." He was referring to the women's criterium that actually ran in downtown Aspen Wednesday before the men raced into town for their finish. The Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge was promoted by van Garderen's wife, Jessica, a two-time national champion.

Sayers turned to Twitter Thursday to apologize for the remark, writing: "I would like apologize for using women and women's racing as a reference to make a point about men's racing. My comments were not indicative of my beliefs. I take full responsibility and make no excuses. I truly regret my statement."

Van Garderen backed his team director during the press conference following the stage 4 finish in Beaver Creek.

"Mike apologized about that," van Garderen said. "I think with his emotions of the day he just kind of got caught up in the moment and he didn't mean it. But you know, at the same time, I'm obviously a big supporter of women's cycling, and my wife just put on a women's race that was a huge success.

"I mean, anyone who saw the women's Olympic race, that was one of the most exciting races I've seen all year with [Marianne] Vos and the close time gap," van Garderen continued. "Mike has a lot of respect for women's cycling, and I have a lot of respect for women's cycling. It was an inappropriate comment, but I think he realizes that, and he's sorry. I wouldn't expect him to make that comment again."


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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.