Tour de France: Tejay van Garderen predicts close battle for third spot on the podium
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 03/07/14 4:16pm
Tejay van Garderen is hoping to challenge for a place on the podium
Tejay van Garderen doubts anyone can prevent Chris Froome and Alberto Contador occupying the top two places at this year’s Tour de France, but insists the race for the final spot on the podium is wide open.
Froome is the bookmakers’ pick to claim the yellow jersey for the second year in succession, while two-time Tour winner Contador is second favourite following a resurgent season in which he has re-found his best form.
Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde are expected to be their nearest challengers, but Van Garderen is among a clutch of other contenders also eyeing the top three and believes there is little to choose between them.
Speaking in Leeds ahead of Saturday’s first stage, the 25-year-old American, who finished fifth at the 2012 Tour, said: “I see Froome as the big favourite and Contador as his main rival. Other than that I think there are a lot of guys on the same level fighting for that third spot on the podium. I don’t see anyone above anyone else.”
Back from injury
Van Garderen will lead BMC Racing at the Tour, but has had his preparations disrupted by a small hip fracture sustained at the Tour de Romandie in April.
Although he was short of race condition upon his return to action at last month’s Criterium du Dauphine and could only finish 13th overall, he is confident he will be back to somewhere near his best at the Tour.
He added: “I got to the Dauphine with a good level of fitness, but I was flat and didn’t really have the top level of fitness.
“The training I had post-Dauphine has put me in a really good place and I’m really happy with where I’m at. There is no pain in the hip and everything seems to be firing the way it should.”