Tejay in the Dauphine Libre
We thought we would try something special for Father's Day this year. What would be better than a father son interview with some top cyclists. Tejay Van Garderen finished on the podium a week ago along side Janez Brajkovic and Alberto Contador but he is still just a son with a dad, Marcel Van Garderen. We asked both of them a few questions and here are there answers. Happy Father's Day!
[303Cycling] Marcel what is your first memory of Tejay on a bike?
[Marcel] My first memory of Tejay on a bike is of course one where he was riding one with training wheels. My favorite early memory is his first group ride on the road. It was the monday group ride in Bozeman, MT. This was intended to be a fairly mellow recovery ride but inevitably a few riders always picked up the pace at some point. It was inspiring to see Tejay on a 51cm frame with the seat all the way down, barely fitting the bike doing everything he had to stay with that group...he was only 9!
[303Cycling] Tejay what do you remember most about riding with your Dad?
[Tejay] I remember when I was 7ish he would leave to go for a ride with his friends and I would always ask if I could come and I was always bummed out when the answer was no. Then I finally grew into the old 51cm bike hanging in his closet and I felt so cool being able to kit up and go out with My dad and his friends.
[303Cycling] Marcel when did you know that Tejay would be a professional cyclist?
[Marcel] When he signed his contract with HTC/Columbia. My first sense that, with the right guidance, he could be a pro was when he was 6. We had just removed his training wheels and he had forgotten how to brake by pedaling backwards. He ended up running into a brick wall, face first. He split one of his front teeth all the way to the root and did not give a peep. I thought; "this kid has no pain sensors"
Marcel Winning the North Boulder Park Criterium
[303Cycling] Tejay when did you decide to become a professional cyclist?
[Tejay] I tried college for one semester then went to Europe in the spring. When I got invited to race Tour de l'Avenir I was faced with either miss Avenir or miss school. When I chose Avenir I decided to give cycling a 100% shot.
[303Cycling] Right now everyones eyes have been on the Dauphine Libre. Tejay, what were your expectations going into race and how are you feeling with your podium finish?
[Tejay] I was riding Cali in support of (Michael) Rogers, so I went to the Dauphine thinking I could ride my own GC. I thought a top 10 if I had incredible legs. I never imagined being on the podium. When I was in the podium staging area I wanted to start asking for autographs.
[303Cycling] Marcel how did it feel to see your son on the podium with a Tour de France champion?
[Marcel] I am absolutely in awe of Tejays performance during the Dauphine. I always believed that this was possible, that he had that sort of performance in him, but for Tejay to step up to that level in his first year is something that even in my wildest dreams I could not have conjured up.
[303Cycling] Tejay can you compare climbing L'Alpe d'Huez to a climb in Colorado?
[Tejay] Alp d'huez is a lot like Flagstaff. I think Alp d'huez is like 6k longer, but they have similar pitches. Steep at the bottom, levels out a bit in the middle, steep at the top.
Tejay racing in the 2007 Bannock Criterium
[303Cycling] Marcel what do make of Chris Horner helping your son up that climb?
[Marcel] I have not met Chris but from the things I have read about him he always seemed like the kind of guy that is selfless, a rider that understands the meaning of the word "team player". So for Chris to help Tejay, the young up and coming American, seems to fit his character. I think it was a classy move from a classy rider.
[303Cycling] Is there anything else as a father or son you would like to add?
[Tejay] Cycling has been pure fun from the start until now. I love my team and getting to travel around europe, but I'll never forget how much fun it was to do the Tuesday night club races, go out to Springhill road and practice time trialing, or road trip across the country with my dad to compete in junior nationals.
[Marcel] For 30 years I have been following bike racing in Europe and here in the US. All this time I have been reading about the top pros, it all seemed so distant. The best part of all of Tejays success is the journey that I have seen him take. From the awkward fitting bikes when he was 9, the drive to win races against riders who were 20 years older while racing as a cat 4 back in Montana, all the way to maturing into one of the best Junior racers in the US, the contract with Rabobank and now the podium at the Dauphine with HTC/Columbia. It has been exhilarating to be close to this and I am excited for the future....his future!
Thank you so much to Tejay and Marcel from 303Cycling and Happy Father's Day Marcel!