BMC may have hoped that its perfect team performance on stage 5 of Paris-Nice would give Tejay Van Garderen the leg-up he needed to compete for stage honours in Mende, but despite the best laid plans, it was not to be. The American slipped out of the lead group agonisingly close to end of the tricky finale, allowing Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Simon Spilak (Lampre-ISD) to leapfrog him in the GC standings, where he now sits in sixth.
Fewer than 15 riders were in the leading group when van Garderen slipped back with 600 meters to go. Limiting his losses he crossed the line 12th, to be 39 seconds behind Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the overall. Critically he's still within a short distance of non-chrono specialists Spilak and Valverde, and hopes to recapture a position on the podium in the Nice time trial.
"The team rode perfectly and I wish I could have stayed a bit closer on the final climb," van Garderen said. "But with the time trial coming up [Sunday], I think I still have a good shot for the podium. A couple of the guys ahead of me aren't specialists, so I'm hoping to get the podium back."
BMC's director sportif Rik Verbrugghe said he was proud of van Garderen's performance on the final twisting, three-kilometer climb that averaged 10 percent grade.
"This is the first time he's done this climb so it's a good learning process," Verbrugghe said. "He was good, but just not good enough to follow the best riders."
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