Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tejay Van Garderen enjoys home cookin' in Colorado


Some might say Peter Sagan has a big head. It's not nearly as
big as his fans'. Courtesy of fabbricadella.com.
Home cookin' -- or, at least, home racin' -- seems to have cured what ailed Tejay Van Garderen. BMC's young GC rider rode smart in earning the overall title at the USA Pro Challenge on Sunday in Denver. He attacked with the other superior climbers on stage four, then won the time trial Friday to solidify his position. Van Garderen finished 1:30 ahead of teammate Mathias Franck and 1:42 ahead of Garmin's Tom Danielson, who won two weeks ago in Utah.

The victories bookended a disappointing Tour de France in which Van Garderen finished, 45th, more than an hour and a half behind winner Chris Froome. Sunday's victory seemed especially sweet, given his second and third place finishes in Colorado the past two years.

"I felt like it was a long time coming because I've been so close both the other times," Van Garderen told Velonews. "It amazing to get it. Other years, I maybe wanted it too bad."

Combined with his victory in the spring at the Tour of California, the win solidifies Van Garderen's position as the premiere stage young American stage racer. Just in time. Last year' winner in Colorado, Christian Vande Velde, was one of the old guard to admit to doping as a member of U.S. Postal a decade ago and retired from cycling at the end of this year's race. Other than Danielson, none of the admitted dopers has taken a turn in the spotlight and all are winding down their careers.

Another fresh face, Peter Sagan of Cannondale, took four stage victories and has become a crowd favourite. Sagan rocks in the States nearly as much as he does in Europe. Multiple victories in California and Colorado have won him an adoring following. It will be interesting to see which path his career takes. With a second place at the Tour of Flanders, he could become a classics rider to unseat Fabian Cancellara. His climbing ability makes him dangerous in the Ardennes. He could pull a Lord Wiggins, lose a few pounds and try his hand at GC riding. Or he could continue to dazzle the crowds in France and the States with his ability to win stages.

Just one thing missing from this race: a stage win from Big Jens Vogt. He gave it a serious go on Stage 2. Big Jens was part of the early breakaway and rode away from the fellow front-runners when he felt they were slowing. He was caught less then two miles from the finishing line. He didn't seem nearly so upset as his ardent admirers, including the ones living in this household.

Two North American legs down: two to go. Next up: the Tour of Alberta, followed by the Grand Prix races in Quebec and Montreal.