My name is Elin - A pro cycling lover's reflections

Can Van Garderen be a Tour de France contender in the years to come?

Category: Cycling

George HincapieIn his career, George Hincapie has helped three riders to win the Tour de France (Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans), which means that Hincapie has been in the team of a Tour champion nine times. Now George Hincapie says that he believes fellow American rider Tejay Van Garderen can be a contender for the sport’s biggest prize in the future and Hincapie probably has some ideas of what kind of athlete you need to be to win a Grand Tour.

“I think we haven’t seen somebody like Tejay coming through the ranks in a long time,” Hincapie told Velonation. “What he has done already – second in the Dauphiné and holding the mountain jersey in the Tour de France for a couple of days is impressive. He is always really strong in the races that he is healthy and fit in. I think he has got unlimited potential as regards how far he can go.”

The 23-year-old Van Garderen has already won a stage in the Tour de l’Avenir; one year later, in 2009, he finished second overall in the Tour de l'Avenir. In 2010, he took third overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné, and a few months later, as a 21 year old, he signed his first pro contract.

Tejay Van GarderenSince then, he has mostly helped others and tried to learn as much as possible, but that doesn't mean he hasn't performed well in the result lists. Last year, he took second overall on the Volta ao Algarve, second in the prologue of the Tour de Suisse, victory in the Tour of Utah time trial, third overall in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and fifth in the Tour of California. Not bad for a young rider.

If he continues to improve, he may be a Tour contender in a couple of years.

“Definitely so,” Hincapie said. “He can time trial, he can climb, he can sprint… he is a very well-rounded cyclist.”

Van Garderen raced for the Rabobank development squad in 2008 and 2009, before turning pro with HTC Columbia in 2010. He spent two years with the HTC squad, then moved to the BMC Racing Team when the HTC team folded.