BMC's Tejay van Garderen was able to warm down on the turbo trainer and quietly reflect on his race after stage 8 to La Mauselaine in the hills above Gérardmer, knowing he limited his losses to overall rivals Alberto Contador (Tinkof-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the first uphill finish of the 2014 Tour de France.
Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team split the front group on the three short but steep climbs in the finale of the 161km stage. Van Garderen was able to sit safely on the wheels and only lost 20 seconds when Contador accelerated in the final kilometre thinking he could win the stage. He finished eighth on the stage won by Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and so moved up to 13th overall, 3:34 behind Nibali but much closer to the other overall contenders. He is exactly one minute down on Contador.
Van Garderen lost 1:03 at the end of Friday's stage and has bandages on both legs. But he fought the pain and seemed not to have lost his climbing power.
"I'm doing okay. I am doing my best to brush it off and keep looking forward," he told journalists a few second after the finish, with rain droplets covering his face.
"I think today I did a good job. But we have another couple of hard days before the rest day."
Van Garderen praised Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team for the way they controlled the race, no doubt knowing he will have to take advantage of other teams in the high mountains that begins this weekend, after losing precious teammate John Atapuma. The Colombian climber fell at the same time as van Garderen on Friday and suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left femur. Van Garderen will have to count on close friend Pete Stetina and Peter Velits in the mountain stages of the Tour.
The BMC team management was pleased to see that van Garderen had bounced back and recovered from his crash on stage 7. Max Sciandri and sporting manager Allan Peiper praised van Garderen as he climbed onto the team bus.
"I am happy for Tejay," directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois said according to the team's website.
"It was very important after a bad day yesterday with his crash for him to be with the race leaders. It showed he is recovering. It is good for his morale, and for the team, it is very important."