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"I could have closed the gap and taken Nibali with me - which more than likely would have meant I would have kept the jersey. But by sitting up, Nibali lost time, which makes it better for Tejay, who is our goal for the Tour....

Photo: Sirotti






05.07.2015 @ 21:22 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen gained time on some of the overall contenders at the Tour de France Sunday while teammate Rohan Dennis slipped out of the lead as rain and strong winds split the peloton.

Van Garderen finished 11th and moved up to eighth overall, 44 seconds off the lead. He and five others from the BMC Racing Team were part of a decisive split of 26 riders that happened with less than 60 kilometers to go in the 166-km race.

"At the time, we were just focused on the wheels in front of us," van Garderen said. "We weren't really paying attention to who was behind. We just wanted to stay safe and in the front. It just so happened that a lot of leaders were caught out. That's good news for us."

Among those missing the move was Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team), last year's third-place finisher, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), last year's Giro d'Italia winner, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), and BMC Racing Team's Dennis.

Working for van Garderen in the leading group, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet and Swiss national road champion Danilo Wyss helped drive the pace. The gap rose from an initial 30 seconds, to 1:00 with 16 km to go, to 1:28 by the finish.

"It was a tough call to make out there with our yellow jersey (Dennis) behind," van Garderen said. "For a while, we were thinking, 'Oh, don't work, let them catch up.' But then all the other GC guys would have caught up. So it was a tough call."

Dennis, the winner of Saturday's opening stage time trial, said he saw the decisive split unfold right in front of him.

"We were going through a lot of roundabouts and I was sort of toward the back, thinking it was safe because it wasn't too hard," he said. "Then Pinot led the gap go. He swung out and basically looked at me, saying I had to close it. I looked around and saw Nibali was there as well. So I made the call not to chase because if Nibali losses time, it is better."

Dennis said the reality of losing his grip on the leader's yellow jersey after a single day sunk in while riding with the second group the last 40 kilometers.

"It was a bit hard to swallow, but I came to terms with it," he said. "I could have closed the gap and taken Nibali with me - which more than likely would have meant I would have kept the jersey. But by sitting up, Nibali lost time, which makes it better for Tejay, who is our goal for the Tour."

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said it would have been a bonus to keep Dennis in the lead, but the team's primary objective remains unchanged.

"This morning, we wanted to try to keep the jersey," he said, "but our No. 1 priority is Tejay for the GC (general classification). The last 30 or 40 kilometers, we were all in for him because if he takes time on the other leaders, it is all the better. We knew today would be a crazy, windy and dangerous day. It was a hard day. But it is the Tour de France. Every day is like a classic. It was a hard day, but a good day for the team."

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) took the stage win ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) as Oss and Van Avermaet finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), placed third to move into the overall lead as the race leaves The Netherlands and heads to Belgium for a day.



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