Tejay Van Garderen is earning the white jersey as he helps Cadel Evans defend his Tour de France title. After a strong time trial and aggressive ride yesterday up the La Toussuire climb, he leads the young riders’ competition by 1-54 minutes.

“I enjoy being in the white, but it’s not something I think about long term, for Paris,” the American told Cycling Weekly. “If it happens, it happens, and that’s awesome. If it doesn’t happen, and Cadel’s in yellow, that’s the main goal.”

He attacked on the Col de la Croix de Fer climb yesterday to setup a counter-move for Evans. The two briefly rode ahead of Bradley Wiggins’ Sky team before succumbing. He eased off on the final climb to La Toussuire help his captain.

Van Garderen made his gains for the white jersey in the time trials. In the prologue, he finished 10 seconds behind winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and in the long TT to Besançon, he placed fourth and 1-06 minutes behind Wiggins. His Besançon result earned him the jersey again after losing it for two days to Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis). He said that it feels good to wear it.

“It does, it was kind of unexpected. I thought it was gone for good after stage seven. I’m happy to have it back,” Van Garderen continued.

“If I’m still there within striking distance in the final TT, then I’ll go full gas because there’s nothing to save with the Paris stage the next day.”

“We get nice press with it,” BMC’s general manager, Jim Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly. “That’s not why he’s here, it’s not our goal. … The number one priority is Cadel.”

BMC Racing signed the 23-year-old over the winter from HTC-Highroad. In his debut year in 2010, he placed third in the Critérium du Dauphiné and last year, he placed second in the Tour of Algarve.

The team hopes that the experience riding for Evans will pay off in the coming years. Ochowicz sees Van Garderen as a future Tour winner.

“It wouldn’t surprise me, [holding the yellow jersey] for one day or for the entirety of the race, I don’t know,” Ochowicz said. “He’s got the skills, he can TT and he can climb, he can hang in the bunch on flat stages… He has all the characteristics of a Grand Tour rider. It makes sense that his future will be yellow.”

Ochowicz allowed Van Garderen to push as hard as possible in the Besançon time trial to see what was possible and to gain experience in a long time trial.

“It was not for the white jersey, but it was so he could ride a time trial at full gas and so that he could continue to improve that skill because someday he’s going to be sitting here with the yellow jersey on.”

Tour de France 2012: Latest news

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Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list

Tour 2012: Who will win?

Tour de France 2012 provisional start list

Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports

Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back

Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour

Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT

Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks

Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage

Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage

Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades

Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes

Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne

Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory

Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt

Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs

Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles

Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials

CW’s Tour de France podcasts

Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs

Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries

Stage 11 by Graham Watson

Stage 10 by Graham Watson

Stage nine by Graham Watson

Stage eight by Graham Watson

Stage seven by Graham Watson

Stage six by Graham Watson

Stage five by Graham Watson

Stage four by Graham Watson

Stage three by Graham Watson

Stage two by Andy Jones

Stage two by Graham Watson

Stage one by Graham Watson

Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones

Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler

Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson

Tour de France 2012: Team presentation

Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage

Stage 10 live coverage

Stage nine live coverage

Stage six live coverage

Stage five live coverage

Stage four live coverage

Stage three live coverage

Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule

ITV4 live schedule

British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Brief history of the Tour de France

Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever