The Austin Chronicle

Team America

By Larysa Pachulski, June 16, 2014, 1:52pm, The Score

Alright, technically BMC manufactures Swiss bikes, but the BMC team is based right here in the United States, and its newly minted team leader is the young American Tejay Van Garderen.

Van Garderen burst on to our radar in the 2012 Tour de France where he came away with the title of “Best Young Rider” (White Jersey), then as ex-BMC team leader Cadel Evans' support system. He finished 5th place over all – actually two spots ahead of Evans – clocking in at 87:45:51 (The Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins, clocked in at 87:34:47).

This year, Evans (2011 Tour de France winner) has stepped down as BMC’s GC contender, and Van Garderen has stepped up. He's had a rough spring, rife with injury and illness, but as he told Cycling News, "If you look at everyone's spring, they always have a little up and down."

He's got a good point considering one of the "ups" of his spring pre-season included passing Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, and Christopher Froome – virtually all of his toughest rivals at this year’s Tour de France – for a stage win at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

If his own pre-season results weren’t proof enough of his level of contention in this year’s Tour de France, Teej has a loyal band of brothers riding to support him.

“He’s the jefe, or the boss of the team,” said new teammate John Darwin Atapuma Hurtado to Velo News. “The plan is to be there to help Tejay Van Garderen win.”

“J-Dah,” BMC’s new Colombian climbing recruit, is already proving himself as a real threat in the mountains. In this year’s Tour de San Luis, he came in ninth place overall, scoring 10 polka dot jersey (mountain climbers) points, landing him only 5 spots away from the King of the Mountains, Nairo Quintana.

Van Garderen will also have support in the form of Peter Velits and Peter Stetina. At 29 years of age, Velits has already ridden in six Grand Tours with a total of three pro wins. Stetina, also an American rider, has three Grand Tours under his belt, including sixth place overall at the Tour of California this year (won by Bradley Wiggins) and a fourth place spot in the King of the Mountains competition at this year’s Tour de San Luis.

In spite of missing longtime BMC teammate, Evans, who focused his efforts in the Giro D’Italia this year (8th overall), and the notable loss of fellow American teammate, close personal friend, and overall team personality Taylor Phinney, who is out of this year’s Tour de France with an injury, the support set up for Van Garderen is a strong, determined, united force. It’s all down to Teej, J-Dah, and the Peters: Our next great American team.

An aside: Speaking of great Americans, Andrew Talansky of team Garmin Sharp just won the Critérium du Dauphiné, largely used by GC contenders as a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France. He came in 27 seconds ahead of second place finisher Alberto Contador, and over 4 minutes ahead of Christopher Froome and Tejay Van Garderen. Are we looking at an American face off at this year’s Tour de France?

Check back here Mondays for more Tour preview coverage. The 2014 Tour de France takes place July 5-27.

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