Van Garderen testing his form at the Criterium du Dauphine

Jun 8, 2014
Category: Races  Tour de France 

2013 Amgen Tour of California winner Tejay van Garderen decided not to defend his King of California crown at this year’s race in order to prepare for his first Tour de France as leader of BMC Racing. Instead, the American used the time to train at altitude in Colorado and do reconnaissance of key stages ahead of July’s French rendezvous.

After crashing out of the opening prologue of last month’s Tour de Romandie, it’s been a while since van Garderen has been in the heat of battle. He returned to racing Sunday (June 8) at the Criterium du Dauphine, an important final tune-up in France that many of the Tour contenders use to hone and test their form before next month’s Grand Depart.

"My last completed, hard stage race was Pays Basque (April), so it was a long time ago," said van Garderen, who finished 5th in the General Classification at the Tour de France in 2012 while winning the Best Young Rider competition. “I am not going to go to the Dauphine with expectations to just win it easily or anything like that, especially considering the competition. But we want to treat it as a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France. So I will definitely be going for as high a GC position as possible, try to test my limits a little bit, and test out the team, making sure we are all working well together."

Van Garderen finished 9th in Sunday’s opening 10.4km time trial 13 seconds back of race leader and 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky). With three of the Dauphine’s remaining seven stages featuring uphill or mountain-top finishes, van Garderen is in striking distance and expects the race to be won or lost in the mountains.