Tejay van Garderen misses Tour de France yellow jersey on tiebreak

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Tejay van Garderen nearly ended a lengthy U.S. yellow jersey drought at the Tour de France on Monday. He has the exact same time as leader and BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet through three of 21 stages, but it’s the Belgian donning the maillot jaune on a tiebreaker.

The Tour de France rulebook spells it out:

The general individual time ranking is established by adding together the times achieved by each rider in the 21 stages including time penalties. In the event of a tie in the general ranking, the hundredth of a second recorded by the timekeepers during the individual time trial stages will be included in the total times in order to decide the overall winner. If a tie should still result from this, then the places achieved for each stage are added up and, as a last resort, the place obtained in the final stage is counted.

Since there have been no individual time trials, Van Avermaet is ahead of van Garderen because Van Avermaet finished ahead of van Garderen in each of the first two stages (by 30 places and 37 places, respectively), though they were in the same finishing group and received the same time.

Van Garderen has to be pleased to be in second place, given BMC won Monday’s team time trial, he has a teammate in yellow and his team leader, Richie Porte, has seconds on fellow favorites Chris FroomeVincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana.

But a yellow jersey would have been pretty sweet for the 29-year-old originally from Washington. He would have become the second American to enter the history books as a Tour de France leader, along with the only American to win the Tour, three-time champion Greg LeMond, who last wore yellow in 1991.

Four other Americans wore the yellow jersey after LeMond, but all had their results retroactively stripped for doping (Lance ArmstrongDavid ZabriskieGeorge Hincapie and Floyd Landis).

Van Garderen came close to yellow in 2015. He ranked second after stages nine through 13 and third after stages three through eight and 14 through 16, always trailing eventual winner Chris Froome. Van Garderen finished fifth overall in 2012 and 2014, winning the white jersey in 2012 as the best-placed rider under age 26.

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