Tejay Van Garderen replays historic Tour stage race
The Aspen Times
Tejay van Garderen is tired. Very tired.
And he can’t wait to get to Paris.
The Boulder-based cyclist, who nearly pulled off a victory in Thursday’s historic stage of the 2013 Tour de France, finished second instead in a memorable stage that included a mechanical problem with his bike that likely cost him a win in the 100th edition of the event.
“Tejay did not even talk about the mechanical problem. He didn’t even mention it,” said Jessica Phillips, of Aspen, Tejay’s wife. “He just sounded so tired.”
Phillips, herself a former professional bicycle racer, spoke with her husband on the telephone after Thursday’s double climb of the legendary L’Alpe d’Huez.
“Tejay’s not one to make excuses,” said Phillips, in Aspen to visit family while van Garderen is racing in France. “But he said he kept replaying (the race) over in his head.”
Van Garderen was part of an early breakaway Thursday that included eventual winner Christophe Riblon, of France, and fellow American Tom Danielson, who also lives in Boulder.
But when the breakaway appeared to slow its pace, van Garderen took off on a solo attack on the first climb of L’Alpe d’Huez. He was able to drop Riblon on the first climb.
“Tejay talked about the climb. He’s done that climb a few times before this race,” Phillips said. “He talked about the bottom … is steeper than the top. He thought if he could get away, it would be out-of-sight and out-of-mind.
“He said he wasn’t planning to go solo, but the break really started slowing,” she said.
But on the ultra-tricky descent before the second climb up L’Alpe d’Huez, van Garderen’s chain got stuck in his gearing.
He had to pull over and await a replacement bike from his team car.
The delay put van Garderen behind, and he had to ride hard to get back to the front.
But he did.
And he held it until the final mile of the race when Riblon, cheered on by a nation hungry for a Tour stage win, pedaled past to take the victory.
“What you don’t realize is how hard it is to get into a break (early),” Phillips said, adding that the television coverage often misses the early work required to break away from the peloton.
Phillips said that van Garderen is clinging to his dry sense of humor in spite of Thursday’s mechanical problem.
When he was stopped awaiting a new bike, van Garderen told his wife that veteran Jens Voigt of RadioShack was there with him.
But Voigt is not known as a downhill speedster on a bike, even though he does everything else on a bike very well.
“Tejay said it’s too bad Jens is the worst descender in history,” Phillips said with a laugh.
Still, van Garderen got back to the front until the final pedal strokes.
“I know Tejay learned a lot (Thursday),” his wife said. “He’s putting every single day of the Tour in a book. He’s learning so that eventually he can win it.”
Van Garderen and Phillips are the parents of Rylan, their 31/2-month old daughter.
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