Tejay Van Garderen about past and present: That rider is still there
Dec 19 2016 03:24 pm CET

Tejay Van Garderen about past and present: That rider is still there
Tejay Van Garderen about past and present: That rider is still there
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TEJAY VAN GARDEREN
BMC RACING TEAM

Tejay Van Garderen was one of the most promising American riders in his early days as a professional cyclist. It hasn't always been easy since then but that same rider is still there, he assures.

Born in Washington state, USA, Van Garderen impressed the world of cycling by finishing third in the 2010 Criterium du Dauphine, at the age of 21. Expectations then went through the roof after his fifth place in the 2012 Tour de France.

Although the rider has continued to collect decent results since, his performance in Grand Tours rarely lived up to expectations despite achieving another fifth-place finish in the 2014 edition of the Tour. With three withdrawals and one 29th place in his last four Grand Tour participations, Van Garderen will now focus on the Giro d'Italia rather than the Tour. This may help reduce the pressure a little bit.

Asked whether he thinks that people expected too much from him after such promising results in his early years as a professional, Van Garderen says that pressure is part of the game.

"You could say that there's pressure but it's a professional sport," he said at BMC Racing Team's media day in Denia, Spain. "There's no crying in a bike race. My results have been a bit more under the microscope because as a 21-year-old I was third in the Dauphine and as a 23-year-old I was fifth in the Tour. So people expect a natural progression from that, that I should be winning it by now.

"The expectation is still there. When you're in a team like BMC and you're paid as a leader and you're expected to lead, the pressure of the Giro is probably not going to be as big as the Tour but there will still be pressure to perform and to prove your value and worth. That's never gonna disappear. For a rider like me, I think it's pretty rare to have such big results at such a young age. How that has affected me today, I don't know. I don't really stop to think about that. But who knows."
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Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team, Denia 2016)
Photos by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com

The experience of having had a tougher few years after achieving so much success early on is something that may end up helping Van Garderen grow as a cyclist.

"Yeah, I think it taught me to deal with adversity a little bit. I'm not nervous and thinking that I have to get back to where I was because every year I have improved and I never had a really horrible season. Every season I've always shown in some way that that rider is there.

"I can point to different results in 2016, which I would say was not the best season. But there were certain periods where the results may not have been there but the rider still was. Now it's more a matter of pulling it out at the right time and eliminating the inconsistencies."

Van Garderen doesn't think that the slightly disappointing results are caused by a lack of effort. If anything, the cause should be looked for in the opposite direction.

"It was never the case that I don't put in the work. I always put in the work. I never take for granted how hard this sport is. I never think that I can just turn it on without putting in the miles. My problem has been that I wanted to overachieve and do a little too much. I think I had less confidence thinking 'I did this and now I'll be expected to do it again or do even more'. I think it's been more a case of that rather than thinking that it would be easy. I think I train as hard if not harder than 90 percent of all the other cyclists out there. I never don't do the work," he affirmed.

Despite the difficulties, Van Garderen remains optimistic about the future and hasn't let go of the dream of winning the Tour de France some day.

"It's still a goal of mine, whether or not it's attainable, whether I can do it with this body and this mind. I guess we'll find out. But I'm certainly still going to try."
Photo of Tejay Van Garderen by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com





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