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"When I was setting a hard tempo, I would look back and Pinot always looked pretty easy on my wheel. He has shown many times this tour that he is more explosive than me. So I couldn't really get a gap and couldn't really grind...

Photo: Sirotti

PETER STETINA

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TEJAY VAN GARDEREN

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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24.07.2014 @ 19:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tejay van Garderen managed to gain time on Romain Bardet and Alejandro Valverde in today's final mountain stage of the Tour de France but despite repeated attempts he was unable to get rid of Thiabut Pinot. The American admits that his French rival always appeared to be riding within his comfort zone.

 

BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen finished fifth on the final day in the mountains Thursday at the Tour de France as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) widened his lead and the fight for the podium positions tightened. Van Garderen reached the summit finish of the 145.5-kilometer race 75 seconds after solo stage winner Nibali to remain sixth overall, 11:34 off the lead.

 

He rode the final kilometers with mountains classification leader and double stage winner Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and best young rider Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) – with the latter two climbing over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) into second and third place overall.

 

"It went well today," van Garderen said. "I just had it in my mind that 'this is the last mountain before the end of the Tour, so if you're going to do something you have to do it today.' "

 

While Valverde was dropped and fell from second to fourth overall, shaking the others proved more difficult, van Garderen said.

 

"When I was setting a hard tempo, I would look back and Pinot always looked pretty easy on my wheel," he said. "He has shown many times this tour that he is more explosive than me. So I couldn't really get a gap and couldn't really grind him off my wheel with a tempo because he is so strong."

Van Garderen received support from several teammates to make up time on Valverde and the rider in fifth overall, Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). BMC Racing Team's Daniel Oss, who was part of a 20-rider breakaway, led that escape group onto the day's third categorized climb, the Col du Tourmalet.

 

Teammate Peter Stetina recovered from being bumped off the road by another rider to help pace van Garderen on the final climb.

 

"Tejay did what he is capable of doing – he has been doing it all week," Stetina said. "He is consistent, he is steady, and I think he can have a good time trial in two days."

 

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said it was good to see van Garderen take 38 seconds out of Bardet, who is now 2:07 ahead of him.

 

"We had three riders with Tejay at the top of the Tourmalet and all the guys did a good job helping him," Ledanois said. "Tejay also did a very good job on the last climb, taking time from Bardet. It was good for his morale before the time trial."

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