American cyclist Tejay van Garderen didn't win the 2012 Tour de France—that honor went to Britain's Bradley Wiggins—but the 23-year-old Washington native showed that a changing of the guard is imminent among United States cyclists.
Once Lance Armstrong retired, there wasn't much hope for American cycling. The man who had won seven consecutive Tour de France competitions is now gone from the sport and currently battling doping allegations from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that could destroy everything he established by winning cycling's greatest race seven consecutive times.
Regardless of what the future holds for Armstrong, his reputation has certainly been tarnished. There's no way around that.
Fortunately for Americans, van Garderen is well on his way to assuming the role of America's next best cyclist. The BMC Racing Team member finished in fifth place in the 2012 rendition of the Tour de France, which is more than anybody expected one of cycling's brightest young stars to do.
At the ripe age of 23, a cyclist isn't supposed to be finely tuned enough to shoot up the leaderboard early on and hold his place there. Inexperience is supposed to wreak havoc on a rider's chances at hanging around among the world's best.
The competition's white jersey winner finished just over 11 minutes behind winner Bradley Wiggins. He proved that the rest of the sport should keep an eye on him.
For those who aren't up on their cycling accolades, the white jersey is awarded to the competition's best rider under 25 years old. In just his second Tour de France, van Garderen was awarded the honor of the Tour's best young cyclist, and it was much deserved.
Wiggins was able to win the Tour de France, but he's not going to be atop the world of cycling forever. He's 32 years old, and there are plenty of riders chomping at the bit to dethrone the race's newest champion.
Van Garderen didn't win, nor should he have. There is a certain hierarchy in cycling, and teams frequently help the best rider on the squad win. It's not a one-man sport like many would expect, but rather a task that is undertaken by a group of cyclists with a common goal.
His time will come. That much is far from debatable. At 23 years old, he has plenty of time to turn his dreams into reality.
Final General Classification Standings (A full leaderboard can be found here.)
|2||Christopher Froome||+ 00:03:21|
|3||Vincenzo Nibali||+ 00:06:19|
|4||Jurgen Van Den Broeck||+ 00:10:15|
|5||Tejay van Garderen||+ 00:11:04|
|6||Haimar Zubeldia||+ 00:15:41|
|7||Cadel Evans||+ 00:15:49|
|8||Pierre Roland||+ 00:16:26|
|9||Janez Brajkovic||+ 00:16:33|
|10||Thibaut Pinot||+ 00:17:17|