BMC Racing Team’s Cadel Evans lost ground to his rivals Thursday on the first day in the Alps at the Tour de France, but Tejay van Garderen said his teammate can recover from a performance that saw him slip from second to fourth overall.
‘Cadel Is Mentally Tough’
On the final climb to the finish of the 148 kilometer stage, Evans fell back from a group containing race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling). Teammate Tejay van Garderen waited for the defending Tour de France champion and paced him the remaining six kilometers to finish 11th on the day, 1:26 behind Wiggins. “Cadel is mentally tough so he’s not going to let this day get him down,” van Garderen said. “He’s going to keep fighting. If Sky continues on a decline with their strength in numbers and Cadel shakes off today and has a better day in the coming days, we can get the time back.”
Van Garderen Seventh Overall
Evans is fourth overall, 3:19 off the race lead while Van Garderen finished 12th on the stage and is seventh in the general classification, 6:57 behind. Pierre Rolland soloed to win the race to give Team Europcar a second straight stage win. Despite his pacemaking duties, van Garderen managed to hold onto his lead in the best young rider competition. “That was really hard,” van Garderen said. “It was a tough day. I hoped Cadel’s legs would be better, especially since Sky was put under so much pressure throughout the day. This was the first time we saw Wiggins isolated. If we can do that again on the next mountain stage and Cadel’s legs come around, anything is possible. There’s a long way to go.”
On the Col de Glandon with about 65 km to go, Evans and van Garderen went on the attack. First, van Garderen went off the front of the Sky-led peloton. Moments later, Evans attacked and eventually joined his teammate. The two opened a 17-second gap while catching a third teammate, Amaël Moinard, who had been part of an earlier breakaway. The trio worked together to increase the lead to 20 seconds before the chasing efforts of four Sky riders brought them back. “It looked like we had Sky under pressure and things looked to be going great, but Cadel had a little trouble holding my wheel,” van Garderen said. “He was having a bit of an off day. Normally he would be the one dropping me.”
BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said the team will take a day-by-day approach to regain time in the three-week race that still has nine stages to go. “Cadel is disappointed of course,” Lelangue said. “We have done great until now. We have tried to limit everything and I think the team did great today. But making up more than three minutes is complicated knowing that you have the time trial at the end and there are not so many mountain top finishes – and looking at the team Sky has here. It’s always possible. We won’t say today it’s finished. We’ll keep fighting until Paris.”