The Volta a Catalunya, in which van Garderen took fifth overall after two top five rides on the key Pyrenean stages, was the first of the Australian and American’s three stage races together before the Tour de France. The two others are the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine.
Van Garderen’s blistering attack on the Port Ainé climb on stage 4 of the Volta a Catalunya, some three kilometres from the line effectively opened up the hostilities between the top favourites – and earned him praise from Porte. At the same time, as van Garderen told Cyclingnews, the similar approaches that both he and Porte have towards stage racing make it much easier for them to deliver joint strategies like the initial attack from van Garderen on Port Ainé, then the second blow from Porte – that saw the Australian come home in third.
“We’re very like-minded in how we like to ride in the bunch, the kind of riders we are, so it’s not really about sculpting, it’s more about polishing,” van Garderen said before stage 7.
“This was our first race together, there are two more races together before the Tour, Romandie and Dauphine so we’ll get everything down-pat and ready to go by the time July comes round.”
Although van Garderen is satisfied with the collaboration between himself and Porte, he is less certain about the whys and wherefores of the strategies of some of their rivals, in particular Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) on the Port Ainé. The Spaniard chased him down successfully, but van Garderen feels Contador, who then cracked when Quintana launched a third attack, paid a high price for burning those matches.
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