Tejay van Garderen second at Dauphiné

“When the spirit is there, the rest works out.”

-DS Andreas Klier

Tejay van GarderenTejay van Garderen secured second overall at the 71st Critérium du Dauphiné. The American finished 20 seconds behind race winner Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).

“I’m happy with this result,” said Van Garderen. “The Dauphiné is a prestigious race, and to be on the podium shows a big level. It’s a nice confidence boost heading into the Tour, where I will look to support Urán.”

The EF Education First Pro Cycling team for the Dauphiné included two neo-pros in Julius van den BergJulius van den Berg and Jimmy WhelanJimmy Whelan and second-year professional Logan OwenLogan Owen alongside more experienced riders van Garderen, Mike Woods, Simon Clarke and Alberto Bettiol.

Until Woods and Alberto BettiolBettiol withdrew ahead of the stage eight with illness, the team topped the team classification.

“Everyone wanted to do a nice Dauphiné, and when I say ‘everyone’, I mean every single rider,” said sport director Andreas Klier. “Which everyone did. Every day, every rider fulfilled his race tasks. The general classification was not a goal at the start, and coming second is, of course, a nice present on top of the daily work.”

The surprise result can be attributed to two main factors: a consistently strong team effort and Van Garderen’s second place in the stage four individual time trial.

“That time trial was the ace in my pocket,” said van Garderen. “I’m a good climber, but I’m not at the same level as a lot of those 60 kilo guys. The time trials are where I can really make a difference.”

The time trial afforded van Garderen an 11-place jump up the general classification from 14th place to 3rd place. EF Education First successfully defended van Garderen’s third overall through stage seven.

“To have three rookies for such a big race, all the unknowns they faced, for sure they had a difficult week,” said Klier. “They managed far better than everyone expected. For me, seeing what they could contribute, seeing what we can build up with them, that was the thing I enjoyed the most.”

“The team was amazing this week,” van Garderen added. “The young guys stepped up and rode well beyond their years, and the veterans of the team had a calming presence and were dialed in their roles. Woods rode aggressive, which was exciting, impressive, and super helpful.”

Woods and Bettiol were non-starters on stage eight, leaving van Garderen with only four teammates.

“It was a shame losing Mike and Alberto,” he said. “It could have lead to some interesting tactics.”

“Obviously we knew very late that they couldn’t start, and the plan Charly [Wegelius] and I made was, of course, interfered with by their absence,” said Klier. “But already during our team meeting, we felt the team adjust, we felt the riders make the switch. If you watched the stage on TV, you saw it worked out just fine.”

More than fine. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT), 12-seconds ahead of van Garderen heading into the final stage, withdrew on stage eight, allowing Van Garderen to move up to second place.

“This race was smooth for us from day one until the end of today,” said Klier. “We never really got in trouble on the bike, but also off the bike, between the staff and the riders, it was the right spirit. We all could feel that. This spirit is the basis for our success. At the end of the day, the riders have to pedal, of course, and that’s something else than the atmosphere, but when the spirit is there, the rest works out. It was a pleasure to work with this group here, with every person.”