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Tejay van Garderen's victory salute honored his wife, Jessica, by kissing his wedding ring, and his daughter, Rylan, by showing off the tattoo of her initial of her first name on his right forearm. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)
Tejay van Garderen's victory salute honored his wife, Jessica, by kissing his wedding ring, and his daughter, Rylan, by showing off the tattoo of her initial of her first name on his right forearm. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)

Van Garderen Takes The Lead At USA Pro Challenge

21. August 2014

Tejay van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team powered ahead of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the closing meters of Wednesday's summit finish at Monarch Mountain to win Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge and take the race lead.

'Able To Hold Him Off'
When van Garderen attacked out of a small group with a kilometer left in the 154.9-km race, only Majka – a Tour de France stage winner this year – could follow. The pair finished 20 seconds ahead of third-placed Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis) as van Garderen became the first rider in the four-year history of the race to win a stage three straight years. Van Garderen said he decided to make his move when he saw Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) in difficulty. Danielson was third to van Garderen at this race a year ago and last week won the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. "I could sense Danielson's attacks were getting a little weaker and he was tired from doing so much work," van Garderen said. "I was a little worried that Majka was going to come around me at the finish, but I was just able to hold him off."

'Went Away Like A Motorbike'
Majka's second-place finish moved him into second overall, 20 seconds back, and three seconds ahead of third-placed Ben Hermans, van Garderen's teammate who was third on Stage 1. Hermans finished fourth on the stage, 24 seconds back. "I was feeling good and responding to the attacks of Danielson until two kilometers to go, then the attitude was hard for me," Hermans said. "I suffered hard. And when Tejay attacked, I could not follow. He went away like a motorbike." In winning his second race of the season, van Garderen also took the lead in the king of the mountains classification and earned the "best Colorado rider" jersey. His other victory this year also came on a mountain-top finish, at the Volta a Catalunya, in late March. "I feel good and I have the advantage of living at altitude and being acclimated," van Garderen said. "Plus, there is the fact that I have the home crowd on my side as well as the strongest team in the race."

'Tejay Was Really Strong'
Like it did on Tuesday's stage, the BMC Racing Team took control of the race at its mid-point to reduce the peloton. Yannick Eijssen, Martin Kohler, Peter Stetina and Rick Zabel helped with the chase of two attacks before Brent Bookwalter and Michael Schär took over to set up van Garderen and Hermans for the finish. "We could tell Tejay was really strong right from the start, on the first climb," Bookwalter said. "That really inspired me to work hard, dig deep and go all the way to the end." Sport Director Jackson Stewart said when Garmin-Sharp was the early aggressor, the BMC Racing Team responded. "Garmin really wanted to make it a hard race – and they did – with the help of a lot of other teams," Stewart said. "We managed to take the punches and were still standing. All the guys really worked hard. Oddly enough, some of our guys actually had bad days and were still able to manage and cope with it."

'Incredibly Strong Team Here'
Van Garderen said he is confident the team has enough horsepower to hold the lead through to Saturday's individual time trial in Vail. Last year, he won the time trial in record time en route to the overall win. "We had to control yesterday and we had to control today because both days, the yellow jersey team had no interest in defending the lead," he said. So this makes it more straightforward and we have an incredibly strong team here. So I am not worried at all." Hermans said the next two days will be important ones for him to hang onto his third place overall and help the BMC Racing Team keep its lead in the team classification. "If I have the legs I have had the first three days, then normally I am going to be good," he said. Then, for the GC (general classification), it is only the time trial that is important."

Listen to complete comments from Brent Bookwalter, Hermans, Stewart and van Garderen on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.

See photos of the race on the BMC Racing Team's Flickr gallery.

Watch videos from the race on BMC Racing Team's YouTube channel.