The paint is barely dry on his new BMC team bike but Tejay Van Garderen is already looking ahead to 2012 with his new team. The young American has pinpointed a number of targets for the year as he looks to assert himself as an GC contender in major stage races.
Paris-Nice, the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge are all on his race schedule but Van Garderen has also selected the Worlds and Olympic road race as events he’d like to participate and be competitive in.
“I have a rough outline of my goals and where I’d like to peak,” he told Cyclingnews. “I’d like to have a strong showing at Paris Nice, Tour of California, make the Tour team and then hopefully the Olympic road race team. Then I’d like to peak again for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and then participate in the Worlds road race and team time trial.
“Paris-Nice, California and Colorado - they’re the races I’m hoping to shine in for GC.”
With such a strong armoury within the BMC ranks for 2012, the team will be competitive on a number of fronts but Van Garderen wasn't daunted by either the pressure or concerned that he may find his ambitions stifled. Instead, he saw the strong roster as a positive aspect and one that he will be able to utilise.
“You look at HTC where we had Geipel, Cavendish and Goss but somehow there was room for everyone. A lot of times I don’t think that guys like Gilbert, Hushovd and Evans will be doing the same races. So Thor and Gilbert like to do Tirreno and I’ll be going to Nice. Also I think they’re pretty selfless and they can work for the team. I’m happy to work for them when it’s called for,” he told Cyclingnews.
Still, Van Garderen is aware - like most within the sport – that he moves to one of the biggest teams in the world with a certain amount of expectancy. The US is currently in a transition as a number of elder statesmen within the peloton move towards the end of their careers. And while there’s still fight in the likes of Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde and Levi Leiphiemer, it is the young generation that must show its growing ambitions.
Van Garderen is on a three-year deal that will see him move towards his peak at BMC, and he believes that this longevity in contract will give him space and time to grow.
“Sometimes people sign long contracts and then lose some of their ambition because they think they’re set up for a long time, but for me it’s the opposite. I’m glad that I have the three-year contract now so that I can focus on racing and training and not talking to managers and teams. Now I can focus on racing so it’s 100 per cent about the results. I just want to have goals for myself and live up to the pressure that I put on myself.”
Olympic time trial
One event Van Garderen isn’t prioritising is the Olympic time trial. With only one spot available for the men, the US will have to select from a fairly equal playing field, but Van Garderen believes the spot should be awarded to his friend and new teammate Taylor Phinney.
“I’ve done some good time trials in stage races but for some reason whenever there’s been a one-day time trial event I’ve been really hit and miss - whereas some guys come in on a one-day event and they’re always solid. So unless I do something incredible in a time trial I’m not thinking about it.
“I’d like to see Phinney get it. He’s young and ambitious and part of the generation coming up. He’s proven time and time again that you can put pressure on him for one event and he always delivers.”