July 09, 2012

BESANCON, France (AP) -- Tejay van Garderen of the U.S. regained the Tour de France white jersey for best young rider Monday after a blistering performance in the time trial.

The 23-year-old cyclist from Montana, who many think will one day contend for the yellow jersey, finished fourth in the ninth stage and moved up to eighth place in the overall standings. He also regained the white jersey he wore during the first six stages.

At the first time check, Garderen was three seconds faster than Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara. At the second time check, van Garderen was still leading, but his margin was down to two seconds. He couldn't maintain the pace over the last 6 miles and finished nine seconds behind Cancellara and 1:06 behind stage winner and yellow jersey holder Bradley Wiggins of Britain.

The BMC Racing rider and teammate of Tour champion Cadel Evans said he surprised himself in the nearly 26-mile ride.

"I started out thinking `OK, be conservative, save energy, don't go too deep because I need to be there in the mountains later on,"' van Garderen said. "But then after I heard the first split I was like, `Oh, man, I'm having a good ride, better keep it going."

Van Garderen's main job in the Tour is to help Evans win the yellow jersey, especially in the upcoming Alps stages where the American's climbing skills will be put to the test.

"I had to promise Cadel I wouldn't crash," van Garderen said, laughing.

Only two Americans, Greg Lemond and Andy Hampsten, have won the Tour's white jersey. Both went on to win Grand Tours, Lemond the Tour de France and Hampsten the Giro d'Italia.

Van Garderen says repeating that feat is "not the main goal, but it would be a nice treat."



Frank Schleck is not happy. The Luxembourg rider thinks his RadioShack Nissan Trek teammates abandoned him after a massive crash during the sixth stage.

Schleck was one of dozens of riders caught up in the pileup on the road to Metz near the end of Friday's stage. The team, which includes U.S. rider Chris Horner, decided to race ahead and protect the yellow jersey worn by Fabian Cancellara, rather than leave some riders back to help Schleck catch up to the main pack.

"I've never seen that," Schleck said after Monday's time trial in which he finished 44th. "I consider myself one of the team leaders, a main rider for the team."

He contrasted his situation with that of Movistar rider Alejandro Valverde, who was slowed in the same crash but helped by teammates back to the front group.

"Valverde is not here to win the Tour, but he had two teammates with him because he's a champion. I didn't understand. ... By rights, Chris and Tony (Gallopin) should have waited for me," Schleck said.

Schleck rode in well behind the leaders, losing 2 minutes, 9 seconds and dropping several places in the standings.

RadioShack Nissan Trek has had mixed results so far on this Tour. It has defended Cancellara's yellow jersey for six days while a veritable soap opera played out around the team.

Its star rider, brother Andy Schleck, missed the Tour because of an injury a few weeks before the start. Team manager Johan Bruyneel skipped the race after he was charged along with Lance Armstrong and others with participating in a doping conspiracy on his Tour de France-winning teams.

Things got uglier when Andreas Kloeden, one of the team's leaders, took to Twitter to slam RadioShack Nissan Trek's press officer with a vulgar tweet that accused the team of spreading misinformation about his form in a post-race news release.

Spain's Haimar Zubeldia is now the team's highest-placed rider, sixth place. Schleck and Kloeden are more than six and eight minutes off the pace and no longer in contention.

Schleck said the team's goal has shifted to winning at least one more stage to add to Cancellara's victory in the opening prologue.



Tony Martin's streak of bad luck at the Tour keeps right on going.

The German was slowed by a flat tire that cost him precious seconds in the time trial, his specialty. Martin, the reigning world time trial champion, had to change bikes in the first 3 miles. It was Martin's second flat tire of the Tour - a puncture probably denied him victory in the opening prologue.

The OmegaPharma-Quick-Step rider still managed to set fastest times at intermediate time checks. Those held for most of the day until riders like four-time world champion Fabian Cancellara and American Tejay van Garderen took to the course near the end of the afternoon.

"It was again a disappointment," Martin said. "I tried the whole race to keep on fighting even if it wasn't so easy to maintain the concentration and motivation."

Martin has been racing with a broken left hand since a crash during the first stage. He has withstood the pain, riding with a plastic cast, looking to do well in Monday's time trial. He removed the cast for the stage, making it even harder, he said. He finished 12th.

"It's unbelievable so much bad luck happens to me, but I think it's not something we have to think about," Martin said.

He is hoping to recover in time to compete for a gold medal in the time trial at the London Olympics.

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