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Tejay van Garderen (right) enjoyed his time on the final podium in Paris. (©Sirotti.)
Tejay van Garderen (right) enjoyed his time on the final podium in Paris. (©Sirotti.)

Tour de France, Stage 20: Van Garderen Best Young Rider; Hincapie Makes History

22. July 2012

Tejay van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team became only the third American to win the best young rider classification at the Tour de France Sunday while teammate George Hincapie made history by reaching Paris and finishing a record 16th edition of the world's greatest bicycle race.

Two In Top 10
With van Garderen (fifth) and Cadel Evans (seventh), the BMC Racing Team was one of only two teams with two riders in the top 10 at the end of the three-week, 3,496.9-kilometer race. The BMC Racing Team finished third in the team classification (behind RadioShack-Nissan and Sky ProCycling) while getting all nine of its riders to the finish line – one of only four teams to do so. Van Garderen's performance in only his second Tour was particularly impressive, BMC Racing Team President Jim Ochowicz said. "I expected him to be here to help Cadel on the climbs and he was doing that," Ochowicz said. "I didn't think he could do it every day like he's done it and he's been able to do that. So that was a bit of a surprise for us, and I think for him too."

Hincapie Leads Into Paris
Bradley Wiggins (Sky ProCycling) became the first rider from Great Britain to win the Tour de France while his teammate and world road champion Mark Cavendish won his third stage. Wiggins finished 11:04 ahead of van Garderen and 15:49 in front of Evans. Urged on by Wiggins and his team, Hincapie led the peloton onto the Avenue des Champs-Élysées near the end of the 120 km race. "I'm actually really good friends with a lot of the Sky guys and I would have liked to have been a little bit more low key about it," Hincapie said. "But they were asking me to do it. So I went ahead and did it and it was a real honor for me to lead them into Paris." In what is likely his final Tour after announcing he will retire next month, Hincapie finished 38th overall in his 17th appearance. Hincapie did not finish his first Tour in 1996 but he did reach Paris in each of his next 16 consecutive starts, a record.

Evans Appreciative
Hincapie's 16 finishes match that of Dutchman Joop Zoetemelk (1970-1973, 1975-1986) and he registered a career-best 14th overall in 2005 while winning his only Tour stage the same year. He wore the yellow leader's jersey for one day in 2006 and helped three riders win a total of nine Tour de France titles: Lance Armstrong (1999-2005), Alberto Contador (2007) and Evans last year. On Stage 16 of this year's race, Hincapie was given an appreciative handshake by Evans as he led last year's winner across the line. "He's really one of a kind and I've always admired him even before I knew him," Evans said. "He's always been so professional. He's the first rider to go to bed at night and he's the first guy in the morning still at his age now. Having him as a teammate is like having an extra set of eyes. It's incredible his experience and his eyes for the race."

In White All But Two Days
Van Garderen follows in the footsteps of previous American white jersey wearers Greg LeMond (1984) and Andy Hampsten (1986). The 23-year-old spent all but two days of the race in the white jersey. Fourth in the prologue to earn it, he lost the jersey on Stage 7 to Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne) after finishing more than three minutes behind the stage winner. But he regained it by finishing fourth in the 41.5 km individual time trial on Stage 9. "I think it's another few years before I can think about switching this color (to yellow)," van Garderen said. "Luckily I'm still eligible for this color next year so maybe I'll try to win this again before I think of the big prize. Being able to learn from veterans like George and Cadel and that I can actually hold up to a three-week race has been wild."

Listen to complete comments from Evans, Hincapie, Ochowicz and van Garderen on the BMC Racing Team Tour de France AudioLine.

Click here to view photos from the final stage.