CARCASSONNE, France, July 21, 2014 (AFP) – American Tejay Van Garderen
believes he can win the Tour de France but admits he will have to wait at
least another year.
The BMC leader sits fifth in the standings in a thrilling five-man battle
for the minor podium places.
Although he is 5min 49sec behind runaway leader Vincenzo Nibali, he is one
of five men from second to sixth separated by just 1:31.
And the 25-year-old says his performance this year has proved at least that
he belongs at the highest level.
“That’s something that I’ve known all along but other people might have
doubted, so it’s nice to silence a little bit of the doubters,” he said.
“But I’m not going to be satisfied until we get to Paris and I’m in a good
Van Garderen was a shock fifth at the Tour in 2012 when riding as a
domestique for then defending champion Cadel Evans, who came home in seventh.
But the American was a huge disappointment a year later when the
expectation was higher and he slumped to a poor 45th placed finish.
“My goal is obviously to one year win this race. That might be a bit lofty
an expectation for this year but years down the road, that’s something I think
I can do,” he added.
The memory of his meltdown a year ago has made Van Garderen a more mature
and reflective rider.
“Last year was the hardest tour I’ve ever done, to come in there and to
have lost everything so early.
“When you’re struggling mentally like I was last year, three weeks felt
like seven weeks.
“2012 was a special year but an unexpected thing. Now I’m somewhere in the
middle, I have this pressure because I wanted to perform but we’re mentally
strong because we’re sitting in a good place.”