Christian Vande Velde is hoping that’s going to be déjà-vu all over again at this year’s Giro d’Italia. Well, sort of.
The Garmin-Transitions captain would love to see a repeat of the highly successful 2008 edition, but not last year’s hard-knock Giro, when he crashed out with several broken bones in the first week.
“I don’t have pressure, but I am definitely going to race hard those first two weeks and see where the cards fall. It worked out really well for me in 2008 and it worked out great for Wiggo last year,” Vande Velde told VeloNews. “Ideally, not break seven bones in my body. I just need to get through the Giro unscathed.”
Vande Velde, 33, became the first American since Andy Hampsten to wear the pink jersey after Garmin won the team time trial to open the 2008 Giro. He rocketed out of the Giro with excellent form and rode to a career-best fourth place in the Tour de France later that summer.
That’s in sharp contrast to last year’s Giro, when an in-shape Vande Velde crashed out in stage three, breaking five vertebra, a rib and his pelvis, and putting his Tour in jeopardy. Despite the odds, he came back and rode to an equally impressive eighth in the Tour.
Vande Velde returned to racing last month with Liège-Bastogne-Liège and completed the Tour de Romandie on Sunday, where he rode to 14th on GC.
For the Giro, his goals are to prepare for the Tour, but not shy away from opportunities if they’re there for the taking.
“I think that’s a good attitude to go in with, if something happens, it happens,” he said. “I want to go in to do well in the prologue and team time trial, chase the pink jersey for myself or Tyler or Dave, get used to race together at a really high level. I’ve been training really hard the last month or so, I am fit and strong, that doesn’t mean I am fast in the race. You cannot simulate anything like the Giro than at home.”
Vande Velde hopes to follow a similar trajectory to 2008, when the team rode well through the Giro and then trained at altitude at St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps to carry top form into the Tour.
While other big names, such as Alberto Contador or the Schleck brothers, are skipping the Giro, Vande Velde says he prefers racing as the ideal way to get into shape for the Tour.
“It works well for me. I work well with a lot of racing and I always race well in the second tour, as long as I have enough rest in between,” he said. “Everything works; everyone’s won the Tour without racing the Giro. Lance never did (the Giro) and he won seven times.”
Vande Velde didn’t want to think too far in advance, however. He respects the Giro and this year’s edition is one of the hardest in years.
“First and foremost, I want to do well and get the pink jersey for the team, then we’ll start thinking about the Tour.”