They say that a change is as good as a rest and that's what Tejay van Garderen is hoping for as he begins his tenure with EF Education First. Van Garderen signed with the team, run by Jonathan Vaughters, after leaving BMC Racing in their shake-up over the winter.
"I think at any point in anyone’s career, I think that a change is good just to get fresh outlooks and new motivation and I'm hoping to pretty much do what I know I can do and that's scoring some good results," van Garderen told Cyclingnews.
Van Garderen spent seven years with the BMC Racing set-up, coming on as one of their rising stars in 2012. He soon made an impact when he beat his team leader Cadel Evans at that year's Tour de France, finishing fifth place overall and winning the white jersey. Another fifth place would follow two years later, but despite some solid performances, van Garderen has since struggled to meet those early expectations.
After a couple of years of disappointment, van Garderen played a support role for Richie Porte at last season's Tour de France – prior to Porte's abandon on stage 9.
Obviously, being in one organisation for so long you're going to have high points and low points, good and bad, but in the end, I look back there and that's where the bulk of my palmares have come and all the best moments of my career have come so I can only look back on it with good memories," said van Garderen.
Van Garderen is currently racing at the UAE Tour, where he is currently sitting in 18th place at 1:56 behind the race leader Primoz Roglic with one mountain stage to come. The 30-year-old is using the Middle East Race as an opportunity to build up towards some of his bigger goals in the spring.
"I'm going to try and climb as high on GC as I can and try to use it as a test. Some of my big goals are right around the corner with Paris-Nice and Catalunya, so I think that this will be a good test of form with some of these races," he explained.
"I try not to look too far ahead and focus on the race that I'm at, at the time. The season is broken up into three pieces. You have the spring, the summer and then the post-Tour. For this spring, I have the UAE Tour and then I head straight to Paris-Nice and from there straight to Catalunya. Hopefully, I've done enough training and work over the winter to be good for the first phase of the season."
Van Garderen will have a new team leader at the Tour de France for EF Education First in Colombian Rigoberto Uran. Van Garderen is happy to cede the leadership role to Uran but says that he will still look to stay as high up on the overall classification as he can.
"Rigo is the leader of this team, so he's going to be the number one guy at the Tour. I think the whole team is going in with this mentality," van Garderen said. "I'm not just going to put the brakes on at the finish and lose time on purpose. That's not how I race and that's not how people expect. As far as the key leader, that's Rigo."
This week's UAE Tour is van Garderen's first chance to race with his EF Education First teammates. The team met up for a training camp prior to heading out to the Middle East and van Garderen is slotting into his new home quite nicely.
"When you've been pro for 10 years a lot of time you know the guys even if you haven't been teammates with them," he said. "Simon Clarke, I've raced against him since I was an amateur and we were reminiscing the other day about this race that we did in Spain 10 or 12 years ago. It's an adjustment but it's not such a shock. We've gotten to know them over the years."
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