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Currently sitting third overall, just 25 seconds off the yellow jersey of Tony Martin (Etixx QuickStep) and 13 seconds behind Chris Froome (Sky), Tejay van Garderen could hardly be in a better position at this point in the Tour.
Aside from the slight advantage Froome has on him, the American rider has built a buffer over three of the main favourites for the race, namely Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
The BMC Racing Team rider is 23 seconds, one minute 25 seconds and one minute 42 ahead respectively.
Given that it is just stage five, the advantages are considerable.
“I think things are pretty good,” he told CyclingTips at the end of stage five. “Up until now I wouldn’t change a thing. A couple of guys hit the ground a couple of times. That is always best to avoid, but everyone is still healthy and strong. We are in a really good place.”
Van Garderen was optimistic heading into the Tour, his confidence boosted by his second place overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné. He said that he believed a podium finish was definitely possible in the race, even if that meant that he’d have to finish ahead of two out of the so-called Fab Four favourites.
Since then his morale has grow even further. His team, too, have belief in him and are amongst the most prominent in the peloton in this opening week.
“Everyone thought today was going to be the relaxed day of the Tour but the wind and rain made it anything but relaxed,” the American said of stage five. “Luckily I have one of the strongest teams here. So they guys just sat on the front all day, I never had to leave third position.
“It cost a bit of energy but that is worth it to say ahead of the splits and the crashes.”
Van Garderen knows the importance of focus, saying that it is impossible to relax for a single second in the Tour. “If you do that, then you are going to lose it,” he stated.
“So from kilometre zero until we get to the finish line, it is full focus. The times you get to relax are the two rest days and in between the stages.”
Having taken yellow on day one when Rohan Dennis won the prologue, the BMC Racing team are clearly on a roll of sorts.
Van Garderen said that the mood in the camp is very good.
“I think everyone is happy, everyone is really strong and in perfect condition.
“Everyone is really confident about the mission here. I think we are just in a really good place.”