Van Garderen in the mix after perfect start to the Tour

Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:49am EDT
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By Julien Pretot

RENNES, France (Reuters) - After a treacherous week of racing on the Tour de France, Tejay van Garderen is still flying under the radar but the American is definitely in the mix.

Having avoided the pitfalls that befell other riders in the nervous early stages, Van Garderen is third overall, 13 seconds behind Britain's yellow jersey holder Chris Froome of Team Sky.

"It's a perfect start to the Tour," his BMC Racing sports director Yvon Ledanois told Reuters ahead of Saturday's eighth stage, a 181.5-km ride to Mur de Bretagne.

"It was the start we were dreaming about but it's not over, far form over -- but we had a good first week."

The 26-year-old Van Garderen, fifth on the Tour in 2012 and 2014, showed with a convincing second place overall at the Criterium du Dauphine that he had what it takes to reach the next level and he gained confidence from that performance.

"The Dauphine helped him reach a new level - last year it was new for him, being a leader," said Ledanois.

"He's (team) leader on the Tour, he's second at the Dauphine where it was close with (Chris) Froome, he realized that Froome is not unbeatable. Psychologically it was important."

At the Dauphine, Van Garderen lost to Froome after the Briton won the final two stages with late attacks in the final climb. The gaps, however, were minimal.   Continued...

BMC Racing rider Tejay van Garderen of the U.S cycles during the 13.8 km (8.57 miles) individual time-trial first stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race in Utrecht, Netherlands, July 4, 2015.  REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini