Van Garderen leads BMC charge at Tour of California

Tejay van Garderen, winner of the 2013 edition of the Tour of California, will return to the race for the first time since his victory at the head of a strong seven-man BMC Racing squad.

The American will be looking to put in a strong performance after a quieter past few seasons – certainly compared to earlier in his career, when he twice finished fifth at the Tour de France, in 2012 and 2014, and twice won the USA Pro Challenge, in 2013 and 2014.

BMC team manager Jim Ochowicz, speaking to Cyclingnews at the team's training camp in Calpe, Spain, at the end of last year, has predicted a better season from the 29-year-old in 2018.

"I'll tell you this right now: Tejay will win a WorldTour stage race before we get to the Tour de France," Ochowicz said. "He will. He's got a responsibility to live up to that position. I think we're on a new track to fix things."

Van Garderen's 2018 goals include riding 100 per cent in the service of Australian Richie Porte at this summer's Tour, where Porte will be hoping to improve on his 5th place in 2016, having crashed out last year.

But first, van Garderen is being given the opportunity to recreate his successes in California five years ago, starting with the opening stage in Long Beach this Sunday.

"I'm super-excited about making a return to the Tour of California as the 2013 edition was a special memory for me," van Garderen said in a team statement. "The course is demanding but we have a strong team and we will go into the race with big goals."

Those goals will include van Garderen's tilt at the general classification, with strong support from the likes of compatriot Brent Bookwalter, who finished third overall at the 2016 Tour of California, and fourth last year. But both will also be capable of securing stage wins along the way, as will Michael Schär, Danilo Wyss and Patrick Bevin. Twenty-two-year-old Belgian Nathan Van Hooydonck, meanwhile, makes his Tour of California debut.

Sports directors for the team in California will be Jackson Stewart and Klaas Lodewyck.

"We'd like to be successful in the general classification, but we'll also keep an eye out for opportunities to go for a stage victory," said Stewart. "We're going to arrive in Long Beach on Sunday with a very motivated roster of riders and staff, and I'm looking forward to a successful week."

BMC Racing for the Tour of California: Patrick Bevin, Brent Bookwalter, Joey Rosskopf, Michael Schär, Tejay van Garderen, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Danilo Wyss


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