The American has conceded that Richie Porte earned his place as BMC team leader at the Tour after finishing fourth in 2016

After a difficult 2016 season that saw him finish 29th in the Tour de France and abandon the Vuelta a España, Tejay van Garderen has said that he is not surprised to find himself below Richie Porte in the BMC Racing pecking order.

The 28-year-old, who has twice finished fifth at the Tour in the past, will likely lead BMC at the Giro d’Italia in 2017, with Porte given the leadership in July.

>>> BMC: ‘We can win the Tour de France with Richie Porte’

“It didn’t come as a shock,” said the American about the meeting where team management told him he would not be leading at the Tour.

“It’s clear that Richie deserves his chance. It was expressed to me that for the Tour that Richie was going to be the sole leader, and I understood that and I’m ok with that.

“It was said to me in a positive way, like ‘take some time away to see what you want to do’, not ‘you’ve lost your position so this is what you’re left with’.”

Speaking at his team’s pre-season training camp in Spain, van Garderen sounded down about losing leadership for the Tour, but looked on the positive side when talking about his Giro prospects.

“The Giro’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, it just never worked out,” he said.

“It’s something I’ve never done, it’ll be a new experience and help to keep me motivated, plus the number of time trial kilometres certainly favours me.”

However, even if the Giro is van Garderen’s focus in 2017, his long term goal remains a Tour de France yellow jersey, and for the moment he seems confident that BMC is the right place to go about pursuing that.

“I still hope to win the Tour at some point in the future. Whether that’s an attainable goal with this body and this mind, I don’t know. I’m still going to try.

“There’s plenty of room for both me and Richie in this team. I think we can make it work in the coming years.”