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"It looked like he kind of died at the end, so I was able to get the jump on him. It kind of surprised me. I thought he was going to start riding away."

Photo: Sirotti




11.06.2015 @ 19:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen assumed overall leadership of the Critérium du Dauphiné from teammate Rohan Dennis by finishing runner-up to Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) on Thursday's mountain-top finish.

Van Garderen had been tied on time with Dennis after the BMC Racing Team won Tuesday's team time trial. But Dennis was unable to make the selection on the penultimate climb of the 161-kilometer race, allowing van Garderen to ride into the lead by finishing 36 seconds behind Bardet.

Van Garderen showed his strength by countering an attack by 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) in the last two kilometers.


"I wasn't really thinking about closing straight away [on Chris Froome]," van Garderen said. "I told myself don't explode right now, if you get too much into the red, you'll just be creeping to the line. I kept a reasonable distance to stay within myself and I slightly cut it down in the end. It looked like he kind of died at the end, so I was able to get the jump on him. It kind of surprised me. I thought he was going to start riding away."

With nearly all of the top Tour de France contenders competing in France this week - save for defending Tour champion Nairo Quintana and recent Giro d'Italia winner Alberto Contador - van Garderen said he took confidence from his performance.

"I think everyone kind of wants to strut their stuff a little bit before July and I think I showed I am right up there with them," he said. "Everyone has their different methods. You can never read too much into the Dauphiné as far as what their form is going to be in the Tour. But I definitely take some satisfaction and confidence out of today.


"It's a great satisfaction to be in the yellow-blue jersey now with all the big names of the Tour de France except from Quintana and Contador here. They're obviously in good form. They (Nibali and Valverde) didn't come for training.


"Everyone has a different method, you can never read too much here in the Dauphiné as far as their form is gonna be at the Tour. Some people prefer to ride in the last group and reach their top form in July. It was kind of the same for me last year.


"I definitely take some satisfaction and confidence. The Dauphiné is a big race with a big history. You don't throw away a race like the Dauphiné. Right now we're just happy with how the race is going. We've had three days in yellow, we're happy with that, we take it day by day.


"Momentum is a big part of any sport, you see that with football, with basketball, anything… we had a good opening week, we stayed out of trouble, we won the team time trial, we got a little bit of morale, a little bit of momentum and we just keep it going.


"There are still a lot of cards to play with time bonuses on the finish. There are three stages left with ten seconds to the winner each day. It's a key factor. It can make the difference. We like where we're sitting and we'll do our best to defend it. Today I had the time bonus in mind when I sprinted for second place but I also had the stage ranking in mind. It's also racing, trying to beat anyone you can!"

With three days of the race to go, van Garderen is 17 seconds ahead of Beñat Intxausti (Movistar Team), who finished fourth, and 20 seconds ahead of Bardet. Those two are among five riders within 45 seconds of the lead.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said the BMC Racing Team did a good job to help propel van Garderen into the lead. But a lot of work remains to keep him there, he said.

"The guys all did a very good job on a hard day that had 4,000 meters of climbing," he said. "But we have another three days to come that will be very hard. And there might be bad weather. The most important thing is that the jersey stays with us."



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