Van Garderen won't give up on grand tour dream

Tejay Van Garderen (AFP)
Tejay Van Garderen (AFP)

Ortisei - American Tejay Van Garderen said he won't give up his dream of winning a grand tour after breaking his three-week race duck with victory on a thrilling 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday.

Once touted as the latest Tour de France contender out of the United States, Van Garderen's hopes of challenging for the Giro's pink jersey in the race's 100th edition hit the skids in the opening week when he suffered "a couple of bad days".

It left pundits questioning whether the 28-year-old, a former key teammate of Cadel Evans when the retired Australian was still fighting for Tour de France honours, still had the stomach for the formidable challenge of fighting for victory over three tough weeks of bike racing.

But after beating Spanish rival Mikel Landa in a downhill sprint to win a climb-heavy 18th stage in the Italian Dolomites, the 'Zen Warrior' -- as laid-back Van Garderen is known -- said his hunger is still alive.

"Luckily, I didn't crash and I'm delighted I took my first Grand Tour stage win here," he added.

"However, I'm not giving up on riding Grand Tours for GC (general classification). Things might change in getting full support of the team."

Van Garderen's win moved the American up to 21st place, but at nearly 40 minutes behind leader Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, who leads 2014 champion Nairo Quintana by 31secs, he won't be challenging for overall honours this year.

"Maybe I can't climb with (Nairo) Quintana on top of the Blockhaus (climb) but I see myself as a similar rider to Dumoulin, I just need to avoid having bad days," added Van Garderen.

"I'm disappointed for the GC, but I make up for it with a stage like today. I love the Giro. I'm surprised it has taken this long in my career to come to the Giro and I'll certainly be back."

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