Aspen’s Tejay van Garderen is one of only four riders from the United States included in the preliminary start list for the 2015 Tour de France, which is set to begin on July 4 in Utrecht, Netherlands.

The two other Americans on the preliminary race listing include Andrew Talansky of Cannondale-Garmin and Tyler Farrar of MTN-Qhubeka.

Born in Bozeman, Mont., van Garderen has called many places home in his career as a top amateur and professional cyclist, including numerous locales in Colorado. He counts Aspen, along with Nice, Italy, as a current residence. He’s also lived in Fort Collins and Boulder during stints with amateur teams Rio Grande and Team 5280, respectively.

The 26-year-old has claimed victories in America’s two premier cycling races, taking first in the Tour of California in 2013 and first in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (here in Colorado) in 2013 and ’14, as well as the best young rider classification in the 2012 Tour de France.

Van Gardener leads a very competitive BMC Racing Team into this, his fifth, Tour. Earlier this month he finished second in the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he led the race going into the final day before losing by 10 seconds to the UK’s Chris Froome, Team Sky’s 2013 Tour winner.

The American racer will face stiff competition from Froome, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), the defending Tour champion, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), a two-time Tour champion; and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia.

About his feeling heading into this year’s tour, he told, “I believe on any given day I can beat those guys.

“I’ve shown already that I’ve beaten them before,” he said. “It’s quite another thing to beat them consistently over three weeks. But if you look at past stages of races I’ve done, just this year at Catalunya when I won the stage to La Molina, Contador was third. On the stage to Pra-Loup this year in the Dauphiné, Bardet won the stage, I was second and Froome third. So it’s not like when those guys attack I just say ‘Ok, I’ll see you later.’ I’m getting closer to them.”

After his very successful 2013 young rider claim, van Garderen took a step back in 2013, finishing 45th, but rebounded nicely with a 5th overall in the general classification in 2014.

He feels extremely confident heading into the 2015 race, saying, “I’m hitting perfect form just at the right time, and if we can avoid all the pitfalls in the dangerous first week, I think we might just have it figured out.”

It has been ten years since an American stood atop the podium at the Champs-Élysées, 35 since an unblemished American has held the yellow jersey on the final day. Lance Armstrong had seven consecutive Tour victories stripped of wins in 2102 for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Floyd Landis was the winner at the podium ceremony in Paris on the last day of the 2006 tour, but subsequently was found to have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs during stage 17 of the race. Greg LeMond is the only American currently recognized as a Tour winner.

Van Garderen enters the 2015 Tour with high expectations and a positive outlook, despite a tough finish in Dauphiné and a difficult three weeks ahead.

“I’m very motivated and I’m very confident,” he said. “I’m in a really good place going into this Tour; I think we have a really good team and just all the vibes I’m getting for this Tour are just very good.”