Van Garderen came into the 16th stage from Carcassonne - Bagnères-de-Luchon in fifth place overall after the second rest day in and although he dropped only one place to sixth in GC he saw his podium dashed. The American now sits 9:25 down on race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) but more crucially is 4:26 down on third placed rider Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
Van Garderen lost all his time on the slopes of the Port de Balès and despite his BMC teammates pacing him on the final slopes, and the long descent to the finish, van Garderen finds himself under threat from Leopold König Team (Netapp-Endura) seven seconds further down in the overall.
"I think he can bounce back. Tejay is really tough mentally and it’s going to take more than one day to knock him down," Stetina told Cyclingnews after warming down on the rollers.
Van Garderen made his way through the swarm of gathering press and television cameras as Stetina watched on before recounting the events of the final climb.
"It was pretty relaxed until we got to the Port de Balès and then all hell broke loose," he said
"I came off with maybe 20 to 25 guys left in the field but I was making tempo just in case. Then by the time the team car came up to me they told me that Tejay was in a bit of trouble so I made a big effort to get up to him and pace him over the top. Then luckily Moinard and Peter Velits caught up at the crest of the mountain. They knew the descent and had ridden reconnaissance over it. I didn’t so I was losing my nerve a bit but we went as fast as we could down and try to minimise our losses."
Van Garderen has two more days in the Pyrenees follow before he can look to maximise his time trialing skills. Until then, he and his team will be hoping that today’s showing is a blip rather than a trend.
"We knew that we had a job to do today on the final climb and there wasn’t much talking at that point. We just had to deal with the situation as it was. I think it’s just a case of the rest-day blues," Stetina concluded.
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