Dauphiné, Stage 6: Van Garderen Slips to Fifth12. June 2015, Villard-de-Lans/Côte 2000 (FRA) — Road Team
BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen slipped out of the overall lead Friday at the Critérium du Dauphiné on a fast, rainy stage that saw the peloton split early, a breakaway survive to the finish and the overall standings shuffle.
Van Garderen finished 11th, 2:14 behind stage winner Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), who out-sprinted Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) on the mountain-top finish. Nibali became the race's third leader in as many days, Costa climbed into second, 29 seconds back, and van Garderen slipped to fifth, 42 seconds off the lead.
Abysmal weather conditions contributed to major splits in the peloton only 15 kilometers into the race. From there, the attacks continued and ultimately, five riders shook free of the rapidly dwindling peloton: Costa, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step), Nibali and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).
"It was a rainy day, it was up and down and really technical – so it was just the perfect storm," van Garderen said. "Any stage hunter was going to be looking at today for a breakaway. Everybody knew the breakaway had a good chance to win, so that meant everyone wanted to be in it. That meant the guys who got in it were really strong."
Van Garderen said at the moment the decisive breakaway shook free, the peloton was down to about a dozen riders.
"I knew I couldn't mark everyone so I picked Chris Froome and Romain Bardet," he said. "Every single one of those guys (in the group) was at two minutes (off the lead) and every single one of those guys has a huge pedigree in the sport. If I follow everything, I blow up."
Two BMC Racing Team riders helped drive the chase for van Garderen, Rohan Dennis and Dylan Teuns. The pair worked to keep the breakaway's advantage from growing larger than three-and-a-half minutes.
"I really have to give a big shout out to those two guys," van Garderen said. "They were just incredible today. Sadly, we were just a little bit isolated. When guys like Nibali and Valvderde get up the road, it is really tough to bring them back."
BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said it would have been better to have a few more riders with van Garderen. But two days of defending the lead for Dennis earlier this week – and the weather conditions – took their toll.
"It was really bad weather and very hard for everybody," Ledanois said. "We don't think the Dauphiné is finished. Tomorrow maybe we have another big surprise."
With two days of the race to go – and both of them including summit finishes – van Garderen said he is still feeling good. The third-place finisher here in 2010, he is one of five riders within a minute of the lead.
"I am motivated," he said. "Valverde and Nibali were both dropped yesterday on Pra-Loup. So maybe this is more of a blessing in disguise that we do not have the jersey and we do not have to defend. Maybe Astana can waste some of their bullets early on in the stage. If I have the legs on the last climb, 42 seconds isn't much."
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