AFP / Yuzuru Sunada
American hopeful Tejay Van Garderen says he is not setting himself specific objectives at the Tour de France, which begins in Leeds on Saturday. The 25-year-old was a major sensation two years ago when he beat teammate and defending champion Cadel Evans to finish fifth overall, as the Australian limped home in seventh behind British winner Bradley Wiggins. Van Garderen also won the best young rider category but the next year, riding as joint team leader with Evans, the American was a huge disappointment, finishing 45th. So now, he is not setting himself any goals other than simply doing his best.
“No number, every year’s different, 2012 that was a special year, I’d be happy with a repeat of that but I’m not going to name what place would make me happy on GC (general classification),” Van Garderen told a pre-race press conference in Leeds. “I just want to prove to myself and the team that I can stack up to three weeks of hard racing and that I am a Grand Tour rider, and just explore the possibilities, try my best and see where I end up. If I say I want to finish on the podium (top three) and I end up in fourth place, that would be a disappointment and I’m not going to say that. I just want to see how far I can go.”
Two years ago Van Garderen was Australian Evans’s domestique while last year they were joint leaders. This time around, though, the BMC team is built entirely around the American rider, while Evans isn’t even on the team having ridden the Giro d’Italia. Yet Van Garderen, whose best result this year was second to Tour champion Chris Froome at the Tour of Oman, doesn’t feel any extra pressure now that he is his team’s undisputed number one.
“It’s definitely a different team dynamic without Cadel here but as far as pressure goes, pressure’s just a made up thing,” he said. “It’s just going to be down to when it comes down to the last couple of km on a summit finish, it’s do you have the legs or not have the legs. As far as pressure goes, there’s not any more or less.”