Tejay van Garderen secured an impressive stage win on today’s AMGEN Tour of California time trial, setting a time that also proved to be enough to claim the leader’s yellow jersey with three stages remaining.
The 34.7km course was a test of strength and power and started with an uphill drag towards a short climb, the top of which came after 16.2km and marked the intermediate checkpoint, before two technical descents led into the start of a gentle rise to the finish.
Van Garderen, who started the day one minute down in eighth overall, was one of the final riders to roll off the ramp and after settling into his rhythm quickly, he posted the second-fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint, just three seconds down on the time set by his BMC Racing Team teammate, Patrick Bevin.
The American rider, who took overall victory at this race in 2013, continued to show his strength and determination over the second half of the course before powering across the line in a time of 40’47”, seven seconds quicker than the benchmark set by Bevin.
After a short wait in the hot seat, van Garderen’s time proved to be enough to take both the day’s honors and the over lead of the General Classification after race leader at the start of the day, Egan Bernal (Team Sky), crossed the line, 1’23” back.
Bevin also demonstrated his time trialling prowess during his effort and after spending a significant amount of time in the hot seat, his time of 40’54” saw him take second place on the day.
Brent Bookwalter put in a solid performance, crossing the line 59 seconds behind van Garderen to finish just outside the top ten in 12th place.
The Winner’s Interview with Tejay van Garderen:
Congratulations, Tejay. What does today’s victory at the AMGEN Tour of California mean to you?
“Last time I came here, I was a new father and today, five years later, I was able to bring both my little girls up on to the podium with me. It’s an incredible feeling and an incredible experience and I am definitely going to savor it.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the race, the stage to South Lake Tahoe on Friday is expected to be another important day for the General Classification. How are you feeling ahead of that stage now you’re in the yellow jersey?
“I think Tahoe is going to be a big test in terms of the strength of the team but I think we have one of, if not the, strongest team here. They will be able to control it and then when we get to the upper slopes of the final climb, I am going to have to stick on the climbers’ wheels. However, from what I understand, the climb is not as demanding as what we saw on Gibraltar Road. The altitude might play a factor but I’ve lived in Colorado and I was born in Montana, so I’m no scrub when it comes to altitude. I think I should be able to handle that. For sure, there are going to be loads of attacks from everyone who wants to take the jersey but as far as motivation goes, I am probably the most motivated guy to keep it.”
“At least I am ahead of any time bonuses so as long as I stick to the wheels I should be safe in that regard. But saying that I have to stick to the wheels and Egan Bernal (Team Sky) has shown that he is going uphill really well. As I said, I don’t think the climb is as hard as stage 2 so it might be easier to follow but I am definitely going to do everything possible in terms of preparations because he is not going to let me ride in to Sacramento with the jersey. He is going to put up a fight.”
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“It was a good performance from me today. It’s always hard to know how well you did especially when you’re sitting in the hot seat. It was a long tough time trial. It’s a specialists’ time trial so you can never really tell what you’ve done until you cross the line. I felt like I paced my effort pretty well with my power and speed and to average over 50km/h for 40 minutes is pretty good.”
“The course was awesome. It is nice for a race to put a true time triallists’ course in. I think a lot of the time trials tend to lean towards the GC or they are short prologues but this one was really one for the specialists. It was hard. There was no faking it out there today and it’s great for the team to take the win with Tejay and now we will fight for the overall victory.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“I think it was a bit of a surprising day for us. We all thought that Tejay could ride himself into a podium position but to ride into the jersey was going to be a more difficult task. That being said, we wanted to do that and the fact that he was able to gain that much time was super impressive. It was an amazing ride. To finish second on the stage with Patrick is amazing also and with Brent up there near the top ten, it really shows our strength as a team and that we did our homework coming into the race.”
“Our dynamic changes a little bit now but it’s nice to get the jersey right in the middle of the race. We haven’t had to do too much up until this point. We haven’t had any guys who have spent all day in the breakaway and we haven’t gone any deeper than anyone else. On top of that, we have a really strong team here so if we can use our guys and their experience accordingly, I think we can defend the jersey.”