Fresh from helping Michael Rogers and Mark Cavendish to Tour of California success, Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia) is set to ride the Dauphine Libere with high hopes of another strong performance.
Van Garderen played a pivotal role in helping set Rogers up for overall victory in California, giving the Australian a wheel in stage two, and supporting him in the mountains.
“California went better than we could have dreamed. The team took two stages wins and the overall and you can’t ask for much more than that,” Van Garderen told Cyclingnews from his Italian base.
“My form was excellent. I was up there for Rogers in all the key moments. They wanted to use me as a climber to help him out and I was there at the end of the Big Bear stage and there right up there until the last lap on the final day.”
The Dauphine is another major goal for Van Garderen, who highlighted the importance of the race in early February when Cyclingnews caught up with him. Along with Peter Velits and Kanstantsin Siutsou, he’ll form a strong GC challenge.
Van Garderen hopes to have the freedom to aim for the overall classification but is also ready to ride for his HTC-Columbia teammates.
“I’m motivated for the Dauphine for sure. I have a long season ahead of me and I didn’t really take a break after California and tried to stay fit and hold the form.”
“The race is really going to be a true test of what my ability is. There’s a long time trial and some serious tests in the mountains. In terms of what I am as a rider I’d say the Dauphine is a bigger test than the Tour of California. I’m excited.”
“We never really go into a race with just one goal. It’s not Postal was with Armstrong where everything was for Lance. We’re going there with Peter and Siutsou. We’re all good climbers and could potentially ride a good GC. It all depends on what happens out there on the road. I think I should have a free enough role to ride a high GC.”
The race will certainly test the American who hasn’t climbed Alpe d’Huez or tackled a time trial as long as the 49 kilometre test on stage 3.
“That would probably be the longest time trial I’ve ridden ever. I don’t think I’ve ever done one over 40K. I’ve never done Alpe d’Heuz. It’ll be brutal. I’m looking forward to it.”