BMC Racing lost its chance of winning the yellow jersey with Cadel Evans, but looks ready to take the Tour de France’s white jersey. Tejay Van Garderen, 23 years old, leads the young riders’ competition by 3-16 minutes with two days left to race.

“Are we going to go home happy? We are going to go home satisfied that we were here and played a role in the race,” general manager, Jim Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly. “We didn’t accomplish what our ultimate objective was, which was to defend the jersey, but we came away with another jersey.”

Cadel Evans lost any chance of winning the race over the last two days in the Pyrenean Mountains. BMC Racing had insisted its only goal was to win the Tour and that the white jersey was a bi-product of its work. It kept Van Garderen as Evans’ main lieutenant, but made the decision to let him off the leash Wednesday. He rode clear on the Aspin and Peyresourde climbs when Evans drifted back.

“We made the decision on the fly. We saw what happened and we had other people there to help him [Evans], to bring Tejay back would’ve served no purpose,” Ochowicz explained. “It was as better to keep him in the race, if nothing else. If Cadel came back we would’ve had someone there to help him.”

Besides wearing the white jersey, the American from Washington sits fifth overall at 8-30 minutes behind Bradley Wiggins (Sky). He hopes to finish fourth on Sunday in Paris. He will need to gain 2-37 minutes on Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol). Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) sits third overall and is nearly six minutes ahead – too far, according to Van Garderen.

“I have great form. I’m going to empty the tank and give it all I have for the time trail,” he said in the media mix-zone. “Getting on the podium, though, is not possible. Nibali is not a bad time trialist.”

Van Garderen joined BMC Racing over the winter from team HTC-Highroad. As a neo-pro two years ago, he placed third in the Critérium du Dauphiné and last year, he placed second in the Tour of Algarve. Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly earlier in the race that he thinks Van Garderen could return to win the general classification one day.

“He’s got the skills, he can TT and he can climb,” Ochowicz said. “He has all the characteristics of a Grand Tour rider.”

Tour de France 2012: Latest news

Sky’s quick exit strategy from the Tour

Wiggins and Froome explain Tour stage 17 final climb debate

Liquigas hopes Tour success could help find sponsor

Froome: Nibali’s attacks weren’t going anywhere

Wiggins’ Tour de France training

Voigt tries to carry on as RadioShack’s future seems in doubt

Frank Schleck positive for banned substance at Tour

Rest day review (July 17)

Defending Tour champ Evans has work to do in Pyrenees

Sprinters’ teams unwilling to work on stage 15

Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack

Froome not winning this year’s Tour is ‘very great sacrifice’

Frank Schleck criticises ‘boring’ Tour de France

Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list

Tour 2012: Who will win?

Tour de France 2012 start list and withdrawals

Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports

Stage 18: Cavendish wins Tour stage 18 with irresistible sprint

Stage 17: Wiggins step closer to Paris as Valverde wins stage

Stage 16: Voeckler the Pyrenean king as he wins in Bagneres de Luchon

Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton

Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank’s Tour

Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage

Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last

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 18 by Graham Watson

Stage 17 by Graham Watson

Stage 16 by Graham Watson

Stage 15 by Graham Watson

Stage 14 by Graham Watson

Stage 13 by Graham Watson

Stage 12 by Graham Watson

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 17 live coverage

Stage 16 live coverage

Stage 12 live coverage

Stage 11 live 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