Out of Tour, Vande Velde remains ambitious for remainder of final season
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Friday, July 5, 2013

Out of Tour, Vande Velde remains ambitious for remainder of final season

by VeloNation Press at 12:58 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Injury

Christian Vande VeldeShowing remarkable acceptance after crashing out of his final Tour de France, Garmin-Sharp’s Christian Vande Velde has said that he is determined to bounce back from the injuries he suffered in two crashes and then to regain strong form an aim high in the final races of his career.

“First and foremost, I need to get well,” he told NBC at today’s finish, smiling despite the physical and emotional pain he suffered today. “I still have races to do at the end of the year, and I am the defending champion in Colorado, and maybe even the TTT worlds at the end of the year.

“First and foremost, I was thinking that this is one of the last races in Europe. That’s weird for me, for someone who has been racing over in Europe for the last twenty years.”

Vande Velde fell approximately fifteen kilometres from the end of Wednesday’s stage and suffered a blood clot in his neck, as well as loosening a screw in a previously-inserted collarbone plate. He got through yesterday’s stage, but came a cropper soon after the start of today’s stage.

Asked when he knew it was all over, he said that the realisation was an immediate one. “Being at the bottom of the heap with twenty guys. I just…enough is enough with injuries,” he said.

In fact, he made the decision to leave the race before the doctor even examined him. “I was [already] walking towards the car,” he said, when asked if he waited for a medical opinion. “Nobody knows your body as well as yourself. I know it plenty well these days.”

Vande Velde has had a long and varied career, being a pro since joining the US Postal Service team in 1998, and also racing for Liberty Seguros, CSC and Slipstream/Garmin-Sharp in the fifteen years since. He finished fourth overall in the 2008 Tour de France, was seventh and sixteenth in the race since then, and also won the 2006 Tour of Luxembourg, the 2008 Tour of Missouri and the 2012 US Pro Cycling Challenge.

Last year he admitted using banned substances while part of the US Postal Service team, with he and several others testifying under oath about the matter. The evidence given was part of the strong case built by USADA against Lance Armstrong, and eventually led to his lifetime ban.

Vande Velde incurred a six month suspension and returned to racing this year in the Volta a Catalunya. Part of his motivation to come back was to ride one more Tour de France, but he won’t get to finish the race on the Champs Elysees.

“The Tour de France is amazing,” he said, when asked what the race had taught him. “I have learned to have a lot respect for a lot of different things. To deal with pressure at the pinnacle of the sport. But the biggest thing is just the friendships and camaraderie and just going into battle with your team-mates day in and day out.

“Especially on this team, we have been together for a really long time. It is a special crew and some of the best friends I have in the world.”


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