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Peter Stetina (leading) paced teammate Tejay van Garderen on the climb. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)
Peter Stetina (leading) paced teammate Tejay van Garderen on the climb. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)

Tour de France, Stage 16: Van Avermaet Sixth

22. July 2014

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet finished sixth Tuesday after being part of a large breakaway at the Tour de France while teammate Tejay van Garderen lost contact on the day's biggest climb and slipped from fifth to sixth overall.

'Felt A Bit Empty'
On the first day in the Pyrenees and the race's longest stage, van Garderen lost contact on the Port de Balès as the leading group of the peloton was reduced to fewer than 15 riders. "Movistar just made an insane tempo and it was just too hard," van Garderen said. "I just kind of didn't have the legs and felt a bit empty." Paced to the finish by teammates Amaël Moinard, Peter Stetina and Peter Velits, van Garderen arrived in 37th place, 3:36 after a small group that included race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team). Several spots in the top 10 shuffled, with van Garderen going from being 72 seconds behind second-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) to nearly five minutes behind fifth-placed Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). "I am really hoping I can bounce tomorrow and recover the legs I had in the Alps," van Garderen said. "It is not finished. There are still three hard GC (general classification) days to come, so I am hoping to bounce back."

'Trying To Limit The Damage'
BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said van Garderen's performance on the first stage after the race's second rest day was not a normal one for the 2012 "best young rider" at the Tour de France. "Now we have to re-assess where we are," Ochowicz said. "He is still in sixth place on the GC and tomorrow is a new stage, a hard day. Hopefully, he will recover overnight." Ochowicz said he was pleased to see the team rally around its leader. "The guys stopped and waited for him and caught up with him," Ochowicz said. "We got some people together with him at the end. At least in the last 20 kilometers he was with his teammates, trying to limit the damage." Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said he is confident van Garderen will bounce back. "I think tomorrow is a different day," he said. "It will be hard, but a shorter stage. The next few stages should not be a surprise again."

Fourth Top 10 For Van Avermaet
Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the 237.5-kilometer race by soloing away from the breakaway group that included Van Avermaet. What was once a 21-rider escape rapidly dwindled on the slopes of the 11.7-km climb that proceeded 21.5 km of downhill to the finish. "This climb was a little bit too hard," Van Avermaet said. "I am not a great climber. I just tried to stay as close as possible to the first guys. But on the descent, I had nobody with me – no car, no moto in front of me. So it was pretty hard to close the gap." Van Avermaet arrived alone, 13 seconds after Rogers and four seconds after a chasing group of four. His top 10 finish was his fourth of this year's race, adding to a runner-up placing on Stage 2, third on Stage 9 and seventh on Stage 11.

Listen to complete comments from Ledanois and van Garderen on the BMC Racing Team's Tour de France Audio Line.

View photos from the race in the BMC Racing Team's Flickr gallery.

Watch behind-the-scenes videos on the BMC Racing Team's YouTube channel.