Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) has had a fine start to the season, finishing in second place overall at the Ruta del Sol.
Van Garderen started the final stage in the leader’s jersey after taking the win in the Individual Time Trial on stage 4, but the stage win and overall race win was secured by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who attacked on the final ascent of the Alto Penas Blancas climb.
A late comeback by van Garderen saw him finish fourth on the stage and claim second overall, 26 seconds behind Valverde. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) rounded out the podium in third place.
“I picked my moment with about 3km to go and tried to put my head down and claw back enough time to keep the jersey, but it wasn’t to be. Hats off to Valverde, that was a good move. He pulled it off with a lot of guts, it was impressive,” van Garderen said after the stage.
“The team showed that we were really strong. We have a couple of lessons to take away from this but in the end I think we showed that we are all in good shape and we’re motivated and ready to take on the next challenge.”
Damiano Caruso held onto his lead in the King of the Mountain classification and BMC Racing Team finished the five-stage race as the best team, capping off a successful first time at Ruta del Sol.
“I’m really happy to have won the King of the Mountain classification. It’s a great way to start my season and I hope to continue with these kind of results this year,” Caruso said.
BMC Racing Team Sports Director Valerio Piva said it was a good way to open the season.
“Of course when you come so close to winning it is a bit disappointing but I saw how strong Tejay is and the team was fantastic in controlling the race today and bringing him to the final climb. The team did a great job this week and we’re happy to have won the teams classification”
“He was beaten by one of the best riders in the world so this is not something to be ashamed of. It was Tejay’s first test of the season and we have big objectives this season, the next of which is Tirreno Adriatico. I think he showed good form this early in the season.”
BMC Racing Team kicks off the Classics campaign in Belgium with Het Nieuwsblad in one week’s time, where Philippe Gilbert will be an important leader for the team.
“Ruta del Sol was a great race to prepare for the Classics. We always need to be better and better every week, that’s the goal. After a good week of racing here, I think that If I can recover well, I can do well in the coming weeks,” Gilbert explained.