A definite overall GC favorite going into this year’s Amgen Tour of California is HTC Highroad’s Tejay van Garderen. Winning this race has been a goal for van Garderen and the young rider enters tomorrow’s stage full of confidence.
“The team has shown a lot of confidence in me,” stated van Garderen. “If I put on a personal challenge, I can kind feed off of that. It puts me under a bit of pressure. I could say, ‘oh my goals are to get maybe a top 10’ or ‘I’ll take my chances and see where I end up.’ It’s too easy to just fall back and say that I didn’t tell anyone I was going to win. If I really come off confident, I force myself to deliver more. I think that’s why I have been more successful.”
“I don’t have any big illusions of grandeur that I am going to run away with this race and drop Levi (Leipheimer) or beat Zabriskie in the time trial,” continued van Garderen. “That does not change my goal to win. I am humble enough to say when my goals are too far. I am not going to go to the Tour this year and win. It’s just that simple, but having been 3rd in the Dauphine last year, why not make it a goal to win here. From the beginning of the year the Tour of California was going to be a big goal of mine. I have been targeting my training and my race program for this race.
Along with van Garderen, Leipheimer and Horner (Radioshack) and Zabriskie (Garmin Cervelo) are threats to win the overall GC.
“I think Horner is going to be a big favorite,” said van Gardren. “Zabriskie has shown good form at Romandie. He has been second here three times. Finish is in his hometown so he is going to be very motivated. Lots of people show up motivated. You really never know if someone like Andy Schleck (LEOPARD-TREK) will be on. He took a little break after the Classics. This may be an important race for him. Another underdog to look at is Jakob Fuglsang of Leopard Trek. He has been showing good form all year. The deal may be Andy works for him here and he will work for Andy at the Tour.”
To further complicate things, the weather has become a major factor for stages 1 and 2. The National Weather Service is forecasting snow on Sunday morning and scattered snow showers in the afternoon. Snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches in the morning and up to 4 inches above 7000 feet.
“The snow definitely could add an interesting element,” added van Garderen. “I am hoping for sunshine or hoping for it to just dump snow, because then there is a chance for it be shortened. I think the worst would be if it’s a rain/snow but good enough to go. Everyone is going to be pretty miserable.”