American Tejay Van Garderen believes he can win the Tour de France but admits he will have to wait at least another year. The BMC leader sits fifth in the standings in a thrilling five-man battle for the minor podium places. Although he is 5min 49sec behind runaway leader Vincenzo Nibali, he is one of five men from second to sixth separated by just 1:31. And the 25-year-old says his performance this year has proved at least that he belongs at the highest level.
“That’s something that I’ve known all along but other people might have doubted, so it’s nice to silence a little bit of the doubters,” he said. “But I’m not going to be satisfied until we get to Paris and I’m in a good position.” Van Garderen was a shock fifth at the Tour in 2012 when riding as a domestique for then defending champion Cadel Evans, who came home in seventh. But the American was a huge disappointment a year later when the expectation was higher and he slumped to a poor 45th placed finish.
“My goal is obviously to one year win this race. That might be a bit lofty an expectation for this year but years down the road, that’s something I think I can do,” he added. The memory of his meltdown a year ago has made Van Garderen a more mature and reflective rider: “Last year was the hardest tour I’ve ever done, to come in there and to have lost everything so early. When you’re struggling mentally like I was last year, three weeks felt like seven weeks. 2012 was a special year but an unexpected thing. Now I’m somewhere in the middle, I have this pressure because I wanted to perform but we’re mentally strong because we’re sitting in a good place.”