BMC's Stage 16: Close Call For Van Garderen

Tejay van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team narrowly avoided a crash on the descent to the finish Monday at the Tour de France to remain third overall heading into the race's second rest day.

Warren Barguil (Team Giant-Alpecin) collided with Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in front of van Garderen while negotiating a right-hand turn in the final kilometers of the 201-km race. The pair was part of a group of 10 riders chasing Italian national road champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team), who had attacked a kilometer from the summit of the Col de Manse.


"Some riders were definitely taking some big risks," van Garderen said. "Warren was trying to come over the top of me. I was just trying to hold my position at the front and stay safe. It was a matter of who braked the latest and he was willing to take big risks and took out Geraint Thomas and almost took out himself."

Ruben Molina (Lampre-Merida) soloed out of the day's breakaway to take the stage win more than 18 minutes ahead of the group containing van Garderen, who finished 30th, and in the same time as race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky).

With five stages remaining, van Garderen is 3:32 behind Froome and 22 seconds behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team). Two riders are within a minute of him in the standings: Quintana's teammate, Alejandro Valverde, and past Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said Monday was another hard day for everyone in the peloton.

"A lot of riders in the bunch are tired and the weather was hot - always 35 degrees every day," he said. "I saw a good Tejay in good position on the last climb. He did not take risks on the descent. It was a good day for the team. The guys again did a very good job in the descent before the last climb for Tejay. It was a good day for us."

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet, who won Stage 13 last Friday, withdrew from the race before the start. His partner is expecting the couple's first baby.

"I wanted to leave tomorrow morning, but a phone call asked me to go earlier," Van Avermaet said. "I hope to be there on time. It is always hard to leave the tour. It is the greatest race in the world. But the team can perform as well without me. I am pretty sure they will keep riding a great tour and hopefully get a great place in Paris. It is my best tour ever, winning the prologue with Rohan Dennis and the team time trial, winning a stage and putting Tejay in a podium position. It couldn't go any better. It is normal to go home. She has been supporting me for 10 years riding my bike. It is time for me to give something back."

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