• Rigoberto Uran drops back to help Tejay van Garderen during Stage 6 of the Tour of California (Getty)Source: Getty
Tejay van Garderen was left disappointed but not down and out after he lost the yellow jersey at the Tour of California today, unable to conquer one of the state’s most notorious ascents.
By
Sophie Smith

18 May 2019 - 1:31 PM 

The sixth stage was the second shortest of this mountainous edition but ended with an 8.2km summit finish of switchbacks, which snaked up into low and bitterly cold cloud that left the faces of riders red and puffy.

“It’s a brutally steep climb and it’s just relentless,” a composed van Garderen said past the finish line.  “It was a hard day and no excuses I just didn’t really have the legs.”

Van Garderen (EF Education First) was well protected in the 127.5km slog from Ontario by what was considered the strongest team in the race. However, the final climb proved too much for the 30-year-old who lost contact with the main group with about 4.5km remaining.

Trek-Segafredo had put van Garderen’s men under pressure on the penultimate climb at Glendora Mountain Rd, working to pull back the breakaway for Australian Richie Porte.

Bora-hansgrohe then turned the screw and played its hand for the general classification with Max Schachmann. Schachmann attacked from the peloton with about 13.4km to go, bridged to the escape and was virtual race leader before apparently cramping.

“I was suffering on the base of the climb and I was thinking once we caught back Schachmann that it might ease up a bit, but we had to go really hard and it was putting me a little bit too over my limit,” said van Garderen.

The American finished the stage in 17th place, one minute and 28 seconds down on winner and new race leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), flanked by teammates Lachlan Morton and Rigoberto Uran until the very end.

Pogačar fights off Porte and co. in thrilling Mt Baldy battle
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) crossed the finish line first after a thrilling fight between the top climbers on Mt Baldy at the Tour of California.
Pogačar joins esteemed list of Tour de l’Avenir winners on WorldTour
Tour de l’Avenir winners are riders earmarked for future greatness. Recent winners include the likes of Egan Bernal, Miguel Angel Lopez, Esteban Chaves and Nairo Quintana. The latest to join the esteemed list is Tadej Pogačar, who stepped up to the WorldTour this year with UAE Team Emirates.

Van Garderen now sits ninth overall – one minute and 22 seconds down on rookie pro Pogacar – following four days in the yellow jersey. He said his strapped wrist, hurt in stage four when his leadership hinged on a controversial UCI verdict, didn’t impact on performance.

“No excuses. I’m not going to blame it on the wrist,” he said.

“I think it was a good week, I just lacked a little bit on the final climb. I still have got a way to go and a lot of racing left in the season. It’s not a complete disaster but it’s a bit of a disappointment.”  

The Tour of California concludes in Pasadena tomorrow with a lumpy stage still tipped to suit sprinters.