American GC contender Tejay van Garderen has said that he is disappointed with the crash which ended up costing him time to the other classification riders on Friday, but vowed to remain focussed and to keep trying to achieve the best Tour de France possible.
The BMC Racing Team rider hit the deck with just over fifteen kilometres remaining. His rear wheel appeared to tangle with the front wheel of a rider from Movistar and he fell on his right hand side, narrowly avoiding being hit by other riders.
He remounted and chased hard with several others from his squad, but they were unable to close the gap before the finish. He rolled in 43rd, one minute and three seconds back, and slipped from 11th overall to 18th.
The American explained afterwards that his injuries were not major and that he will definitely be able to start tomorrow. He said he was both confused and disappointed by what happened.
“I was on my team-mate Micki (Michael Schär)’s wheel. To be honest, I really don’t know [what happened]. Someone swerved over and then it kind of felt like I was taken out a little bit from behind. I’d have to look at the video footage to really tell you.”
Van Garderen is the designated leader for the BMC Racing team in the race. He played second fiddle to Cadel Evans at certain times in the past, but this year is the sole captain. He is now three minutes 14 seconds back overall and knows his chances of winning the race are fading. However he also knows that there is plenty of racing ahead and that other riders have come back from big deficits in the past.
“It is a tough blow, but the Tour is long. The race changes,” he said. “You saw some guys lose a minute yesterday in the crosswind. You just got to stay the course and keep fighting.”
The day had an additional complication as Darwin Atapuma crashed and quit the race. Van Garderen acknowledged that he had lost an important team-mate, and knows that he could have used his help in the days to come.
“This is definitely not a good day for the team. We were keeping him fresh, keep him out of the wind, not having him working at all,” he said. “We were keeping him fresh for the mountains, and to lose him [like this]…I really just hope he is okay. I heard he banged his knee pretty hard.”