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Tour de Tejay

Cycling’s best young rider reveals his favorite Montana routes



It’s been quite a year for former Montana resident Tejay van Garderen. It started when the 22-year-old professional cyclist finished fifth in the 2012 Tour de France and earned the Best Young Rider Classification, or rookie of the year. It continued into early 2013 with a fourth-place finish in the Paris-Nice stage race and a first place in the young riders division of France’s Criterium International. Then, after completing the April Tour of the Basque Country in Spain, van Garderen received a call from his wife, Jessica, that she was going into labor three weeks early with their first child. Within hours, van Garderen was on a plane so he could join Jessica in the delivery room to welcome their daughter, Rylan.

Now, van Garderen, who grew up in Bozeman and moved to Missoula when he was 14, is looking to build on his recent successes with a slate of major summer races. He has specifically targeted the USA Pro Challenge in August, where he finished second last year, and the Tour de France in July, where he’ll be a co-leader for the BMC Racing Team.

Van Garderen doesn’ make it back to Montana often—his off-season home is in Italy—but he credits his time in Big Sky Country for helping to launch his career. We recently caught up with van Garderen to ask about his favorite training routes in Montana.

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  • Kristof Ramon
  • Tejay van Garderen became the third American to win the Tour De France Best Young Rider Classification, following Greg LeMond in 1984 and Andrew Hampsten in 1986.

Battle Ridge Road, Bozeman

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This 70-mile loop can start in downtown Bozeman or at the base of Bridger Bowl Ski Area, and gains 4,000 feet of elevation in Bridger Canyon.

“In Bozeman, the Battle Ridge Road was one of my favorite training rides,” van Garderen says. “I just remember it being super epic for my 13-year-old self. It was one of those rides I would brag, ‘I went all the way to Battle Ridge today.’ When I was at the top it gave me a reason to thump my chest a bit. That, and it was beautiful country.”

Pattee Canyon, Missoula

Montana Headwall. Outdoor adventure under the Big Sky.

The Missoula Bike Club has hosted the Western Montana Hill Climb every fall since 1977. Van Garderen is a two-time overall winner and holds the record in the 15-17 age group with a time of 13:09.

“Pattee Canyon was cool because there was a time trial there every fall,” he says. “I remember doing training rides, gauging my time off of all the previous times in the race’s history. I would always race myself up. I spent a lot of time training on that climb, riding it multiple times a day on many occasions.”

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