Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) is looking for redemption after falling ill on the final rest day last year and abandoning while sitting third overall.
  • George Hayduke

    i hope he gets it together for next season, dude is 100% american talent.

  • winkybiker

    Talented? Perhaps. I’d argue that he has never ridden “in support of” anyone, though.

    • Neal Rogers

      You could argue that, but images of him riding on the front of the peloton at the Vuelta, defending Atapuma in the leader’s jersey, would say differently. Same with him dropping back to pace Cadel Evans at the 2012 Tour de France.

      • winkybiker

        And when he rode away from a punctured Evans at the top of the Peguere?

        • Neal Rogers

          At the time everyone was puncturing due to tacks on the road, TVG said he thought Cummings was dropping back for Evans, I believe. Either way, you said “never.” ?

          • Dave

            The same mistake was made by BMC at the Tour de France this year, during stage two they all forgot about the GC and smashed it on the front for GVA (who “rewarded” them with an 8th place) only to leave Porte without a bodyguard when he needed it.

            There are some systematic issues at BMC that go way beyond TVG. Finally getting around to replacing Hincapie in the role of road captain would go a long way to solving them.

            As for “never” – perhaps he was riding a bike when he helped Ochowicz bury the body?

          • winkybiker

            My recollection was that TJVG claimed he didn’t hear Evans call (but he did turn around). Yeah, but OK, “never” is a bit harsh.

            (Ever ridden the Peguere? Nasty, nasty little hill – tacks or not.)

  • jgrosser

    Dropping at the same point in the Tour 3 years in a row? Sounds like maybe he needs some help from a sports psychologist.

    • Neal Rogers

      Two Tours, one Vuelta, all separated by 14 months, but yes, an uncanny coincidence.

      • jgrosser

        I would love to see Tejay win, but he’s always seemed to me to lack a “killer instinct.” And his personality as it shows through in tv interviews seems so blah and robotic. He never seems like he’s having fun. Compare that to, say, Chris Horner – Horner seems much more animated (over the hill, but animated). Maybe it’s time to move my rooting eggs into the Adrien Costa basket ….

      • JMac

        Perhaps … just PERHAPS … it is actually WE who need the sports psychologists — maybe they can deprogram the years and years of manipulated experiences all of us have had watching GC riders perform at 100% day in & day out for the entire course of multiple seasons!!! Perhaps, repeatedly dropping out on Stage 17 is actually proof that the man is NOT a quitter, but rather that he has given everything he had, and it just simply was not enough!?! Perhaps, after 15 days of racing for the lead in a grand tour, and 2 rest days, TJVG’s body, NOT HIS MIND, simply reaches the limits of its physical capabilities. Perhaps, rather than assuming he is scared of the Tour, or mentally fragile, we should consider that what we had been watching for so many years was athletes (who I still love & admire) using steroids and/or stimulants to push their bodies beyond the limits of legitimate human endurance, and in doing so, taking unknowable risks with their mental & physical health, all for the sake of our viewing pleasure and to garner the glory that we rightly bestow upon the truly “hard men.” Perhaps it is WE who must re-calibrate OUR minds as to what we can fairly expect from these hard men.

    • cthenn

      “Maybe I was being a little bit whiny”, says TJ. This ties in with what you are suggesting. In the interviews I’ve seen him do (when he didn’t perform how he wanted), he does come off a bit whiny. Not sure which would cause which (the whining leading to mentally losing it, or losing it which leads to whining), but to use a cycling phrase, it seems he needs to HTFU a little bit. Things aren’t always going to go your way, and you can’t get mopey when you’re down on your luck. Wish him well though, he’s still one of the best American riders.

  • DCdudez

    I gave him hard time the other day, unfairly, I have to admit. We don’t know what these athletes going thru. They are trying to balance, private, family and professional lives, very very hard task. Thanks for giving the readers a glimpse of what’s going on with Tejay. Hope he straightens everything up next year and comes back stronger. I will be cheering for him no matter.

  • lowlander

    Interesting article. It must be tough. Young guy with tons of expectations, even more critics, living away from his wife and little ones… All of that just adds pressure. I couldn’t deal with being so far away from my family for so long. He’s also clearly second guessing many, many things and now he’ll have to deal with so many people telling him how to ‘fix’ it.

    It seems like he’s lacking a strong mentor/coach in whom he has complete faith and trust. Not a dig at Tejay but given the way he and the team seem to be talking about the situation, I wouldn’t expect much to change for 2017.

  • velocite

    So much for sports science. Mind may play a part but the body is surely the key, but there’s no objective way of assessing it – other than to look at outcomes. And the best TJ can come up with is he needs to go out to dinner in training camps. Hiring a rider, or anyone really, involves judging how they’re likely to perform in the short and long term future. Orica got it right it seems when they bet on Chaves when he was a wreck. But other than for his profile I don’t see how you could hire TJ as leader today.

  • Dave

    My view is that he won’t improve unless he leaves BMC, just like Porte saved his career by leaving Sky at the end of last year.

    TVG needs to go to a team that will challenge him more, won’t let him coast, and will tell him to get back on the bike if he tries to abandon a race.

  • wheelchaser

    Richie wouldn’t say anything but I’m sure he’s smiling at TJ’s talk of being a tour leader. Where does he slot in with Froome, Contador, Porte, young guns Quintana 26, Aru 26, Bardot 25, Yates 24 Meintjes 24. and of course there are others. I really think TJ should concentrate on 1 week races and see what shakes out. He sounds like a homesick puppy.

  • JBKayak

    I’ve been interested in hearing from TJ himself. I remember him winning on the hottest day in the Tour of California. I believe it was an uphill finish @ Palm Springs with surface temperatures up to 110-130 in the desert.. I swear, he hasn’t had the same results since. Has a pro ever overcooked himself, stressed his body to much that it changed his physiology, max fatigue levels or messed their bodies ability to recover? Any past evidence of this ever happening? Kinda self induced chronic fatigue syndrome from over exerting during deplorable conditions. It’s was hot enough for the organizers to consider changing the finish and this, among many others days, helped the riders gain traction for an extreme weather protocol. It’s was most inhumane that day.

    • Mark Hespenheide

      I’m not familiar with it in cycling, but the 1982 “Duel in the Sun” Boston Marathon featured Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley battling neck-and-neck in the hear. Both were fierce competitors at the top of their sport; neither ever ran at the same level again.

    • Ronin

      Good Lord. You’re grossly distorting history in the attempt to use van Gardaren as evidence that racing in the heat is dangerous? 1. Van Gardaren did not win that Palm Springs stage. Acevedo did. 2. The Palm Springs stage was in the Spring of 2013. Later in the year he won the Colorado race. In 2014 he took second in Oman, third in Cataluna, fifth in the Tour, won the Colorado race again, and was on BMC’s winning time trial team at Worlds. It was probably his best year. If we adopt your simplistic after-this-therefore-because-of-this reasoning, we should rather conclude that Tejay should train more in really hot temps. (Actually, there is real evidence that this can have significant improvements in performance.)

      Only soft, sheltered people think working, training, and racing in the heat is dangerous. It is not. People all over the world do it quite safely.

      The squeamish and unironic use of “inhumane” to describe a hot race is especially galling. Chopping people’s heads off is inhumane. Stoning women for adultery is inhumane. Dragging a human being behind a truck until he’s a ragged piece of meat is inhumane.

      • Dom

        settle

      • JBKayak

        No, my point wasn’t about the dangers of racing in the heat for everyone. I think I went down the wrong road by trying to add context to my question and never needed to mention the extreme weather protocol. Of course they’re riders that can prevail, even excel in hot condition, it’s a big World with riders growing up in some hot places. I was asking, could going deep, on an usually hot day, affect A riders future performances, have the body respond differently to that specific type of stress. I think VanGuarden’s an elite athlete and has handled, and won, World Tour events but, hasnt progressed linearly in three week tours. The progression plateaued after ToC 2012. It was hot enough that afterwards, riders tweeted pictures of blisters from burns on their bodies from lying on the black pavement after the stage.
        TJ is a great rider; I just wanted to know if that ride could have got him off his game. He covers 99% of what the World Tour throws at him, and 2012 he was able to cover the fatigue of a hot three week grand tour too. Could he have affected his body’s auto-responses it has during the hardest part, the higest fatigue levels of a Grand Tour? With the additional stress layer of extreme heat on him? Maybe it just an excuse but I posed the question anyway. Maybe just a training camp in the heat will fix it as you suggested. Bet he never thought of that
        Now we are still waiting for a podium on a grand tour that I think is in him.
        (After remembering 2014, 5th place ToF, I think it’s an excuse)

      • JBKayak

        Seems like hot weather protocol is a hot topic once again at the world championships. You think you can train for heat like that, ask the woman from Robobank that crashed for no other reason than the heat and had to continue has she was that last rider from the TTT. Sucks not being right all the time eh?

  • Carton

    Tejay does sound like someone who overthinks things. Giving the charming-when-he-wants-to-be borderline-psychopath another chance is definitely an example. So was the fearing the revenge of the winter skeeters. But he railed it here. Great build-up to the interview, as well. Set up them fighting words perfectly.

  • Sascha

    IMO this article and some of the comments says as much about the BMC management or mismanagement rather than VG…looking back over the years, they got it right with Cadel several times but there’s been more than a few brain farts along the way… ;)

    • JBKayak

      I remember a new BMC Team doing wheelies, before Sagan made it cool, at a training camp a few years back when Thor was in the team. It seemed like BMC was pro-riders (for the riders) team more than a strict organized managed team(Sky). After a bad season the Director was replaced by a more disciplinarian Director. Maybe there is merit in TJ accusations of mismanagement.

  • onwee

    TVG cannot win the Tour de France because he is lacking in both the key abilities: explosive climbing and top 5 time trialling against the best in the world. He is a diesel climber and a top 10, sometimes, time trial rider. He needs luck to maximize his position against the best riders, and he needs resilience to be strong in week 3. So he should not be the leader of a major team but he’s a bit too good for domestique duty at this stage in his career. Like Kreuziger, that is where he will end up though. Hey, Zubeldia was top 5 in the TdF too, and nobody thought he could win it, but he’s had a great career.

  • Stuttgart5

    TJ has ridden very very well since his young glory days with Aldag and Holm at High Road, but he hasn’t progressed at the usual rate since leaving those two
    directors. And TJ is not the only rider to experience that problem.
    It seems consistent that those who leave A and H ride at a lower
    level later. There are many many examples. Velits podiumed at La
    Vuelta riding for those guys! Lofkvist was the Tony Martin of TT’s.
    Goss, Gerdeman, Gretsch, Grabsch , Howard, Rabon, Sivstsov,
    Henderson, Sinkewitz, Kirchen, etc were prolific winners on that
    team.

    Before A and H went to
    Ettix a few years back, that team was winning 7 to 10 races per year.
    This year they have won over 50 times. A and H are the common
    denominator in the career highlights for so many riders.

    So maybe if TJ went (back)
    to Ettix he could win the Tour!!

  • Sean

    What has changed since 2012?

  • JanDeaux

    Tejay seems like a nice guy with a lot of talent but not quite enough to reach any step of a Grand Tour. One thing has always struck me – Tejay rarely if ever seems to labor even in the toughest part of a ride; it’s almost as though he’s “too cool for school”. Even Froome and Quintana will complete a mountain top finish almost gasping for air – but not Tejay. He will roll across like he just finished a Sunday ride with his family…despite the fact he just lost 20 seconds or whatever and had every reason to be at red-line. He’s a different kind of rider…

  • RaggedRobin

    Porte is clearly, hands down, the superior rider and BMCs best shot. If he didn’t lose 1:45 due to a puncture on stage 2 then he would’ve been a podium lock. TJ gives them options with two protected riders in theory but if you look at what happened in the Tour, Porte would be better off with a dedicated domestique in the mountains. Tell TJ to ride the Giro and Vuelta in 2017 and then him sign with another team.

  • Rae A.

    I’ll be shocked if he finishes in the top 10 in the TdF again. His best days are over, imo, and I wish the American cycling media would turn their attention to other potential talents, and BMC should not make him a leader of anything but a 1 week race. He is not a contender for a GC, and is not in the same league as Froome, Quintana, Evans, Contador, Valverde. Who knows, maybe if we drop the expectations (that are unreasonable given his recent efforts) he might improve. But, I think his best days are over, for better or worse. And, he did have some good days.

    He did look too skinny to me this year.

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