After a break from racing, Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia), will start his first race since June at the Clásica San Sebastian in Spain, this weekend.
The American has had a successful season to date and capped it with a podium spot in June's Critérium du Dauphiné. The second part of his season will revolve around his first Grand Tour - the Vuelta a España - where he's already set some impressive goals.
"I don't want to go there and just ride around," he told Cyclingnews. "I want to race, whatever that means, whether it's riding for a stage or top-10 or top ten on GC, either way I want to be animating and not just sitting around."
"I had some good rest after the Dauphine but I'm just on the back of a good stint of training in the Dolomites. I'm not expecting to win tomorrow, but I think the form is alright," he told Cyclingnews.
Van Garderen's schedule before the Vuelta appears relaxed, with less than 10 days of racing before the start in Seville on August 28. After San Sebastian he will compete in the Tour de l'Ain and a handful of Italian one day races.
"It's a relaxed schedule with just seven days of racing between now and the Vuelta. I'll be going into it pretty relaxed, but that's good for me."
"It will take a few races for me to get some of that top end form back but I'll use some of these races to get some of that intensity back. I think it's more important to be good in the third of the Vuelta rather than hit it hard in the first week."
As now customary with Van Garderen's laidback attitude, the American isn't putting too much pressure on himself.
"Gaining experience is one of the goals too but not the only one. I don't want set my sights too high or set myself up for failure but in the back of my mind I don't want to give time away on the flat and stay with the front groups as long as I can. I'll see where I am after day 14 and if I'm top 10, I'm still going to fight for it but if I find I'm fighting for top 50 then I'll just relax and start trying for breakaways."
Van Garderen was signed by HTC after two years with Rabobank's development team. The team have shown their faith in his bright start within the pro ranks, something he's well aware of and hoping to pay back with more results.
"Bob [Stapleton] is super happy with me, and I think that shows by just being able to start the Vuelta. Not all neo-pros get the chance to start a Grand Tour and it's good that they want to give me good races. Allan Peiper and Rolf Aldag have been great with me and very positive," Van Garderen said.
After his strong debut season in the pro ranks, it's no surprise that Van Garderen is attracting attention from rival teams but with one year left on his existing deal he's in no rush to take his mind of racing, focusing on his job for HTC, a team that prides itself on developing young, talented riders.
"I have another year with HTC, and I'm going to be respectful and not negotiate with anyone until my contract is up. Maybe Columbia will step up at the end of the year but as of now I have one more year on my contract, and I'm going to respect that."