HTC-Highroad‘s Tejay Van Garderen aims for the GC and his first victory of this year at the Tour of California, showing a high level of focus and form with a strong team behind him.
Armed with Matt Goss and Leigh Howard for the sprints, the team aims to have a strong start in Tahoe.
“Training has been going well, I got over the jet lag and did a little altitude training,” says Van Garderen, “Things are right on track- but I wouldn’t say all the pressure is on me, we want to win the first stage with Goss and to take the jersey.”
“You really need the whole team for this race, it’s very difficult to control possession of the yellow jersey,” says sport director Rolf Aldag, “And the riders really want to win this race, Tejay wants to win. He has an ideal mindset going into this, which makes it easy for us to support him. He is on fire in training so far and he is super focused and very motivated.”
The riders anticipate a broad spectrum of weather conditions this year starting with some cold weather in Tahoe.
“The weather really seems to play a big role in Tahoe [stage 1], we may even have fresh snow on Saturday,” says Aldag, “If so, the final climb before the descent to the finish will be more dangerous and critical.”
“We’ll have to be careful with how much risk we can take there,” says Aldag, “It’s about long-term ambitions with caution to be sure to make it to the last stage.”
With Van Garderen raring to go, the team bolsters his GC chances with support from Bernhard Eisel, Danny Pate, Bert Grabsch and the Velits brothers.
“This is the first big stage race for me, actually after the Tour Down Under,” says Eisel, “We have a really big chance to win and we have to do it. I’ll have to do my homework for each stage.”
“Danny [Pate] in in even better shape now, has been training at altitude which he had not really been doing before,” Says Aldag. “Everyone knows how important this race is to the team and we are not just here to have a good time in California.”
HTC-Highroad for the Tour of California: Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Matt Goss (Aus), Leigh Howard (NZ), Danny Pate (USA), Tejay Van Garderen (USA), Martin Velits (Svk), Bert Grabsch (Ger) and Peter Velits (Svk)