Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) is cursed when it comes to the third stage of grand tours.
The veteran American hit the deck in Monday’s third stage at the Vuelta a España when he was involved with a pileup of about a half-dozen riders early in the route from Marbella to Málaga. He was not seriously injured and was able to finish the stage.
“It was on a rough section of road near an olive oil factory, so the road was very slippery. Several other riders crashed. Christian did not fall very hard and he was right back on his bicycle,” Garmin-Transitions sport director Johnny Weltz told VeloNews. “It was not a major incident. Christian is OK. He’s not going to the hospital or anything like that. In fact, he says he’s feeling pretty good for the Vuelta.”
Vande Velde crashed out of the 2009 and 2010 Giros d’Italia in the third stage and did not start the third stage of the 2010 Tour de France after falling in the rain the previous day.
He comes into this Vuelta hoping to end that run of bad luck. He hopes to get a complete grand tour in his legs before closing out what’s been a disappointing and frustrating season for the American veteran.
“First and foremost, I need to finish the season in a high note and get a grand tour in my legs. But at the same time, I am not going to just sit in the gruppetto every day and follow wheels. That’s not me. I just wouldn’t accept that for myself,” Vande Velde told VeloNews. “I am excited to race hard and be up at the front with Tom (Danielson).”
Vande Velde raced for the first time since crashing out of the Tour in Saturday’s team time trial, when the squad rode to a solid sixth place. Garmin-Transitions pushed Tyler Farrar into third in Sunday’s stage kept their GC options in play with Tom Danielson and Vande Velde.
Vande Velde also said in the wake of his crashes he even mulled retirement, but decided to fight through his pain and forge yet another comeback from injury.
“It was a lot of ups and downs, it was good to have (the Vuelta) as a goal to get back into the saddle and get ready to race again. It was hard, but I am glad to be here,” he continued. “There’s always that kind of that stuff when you take that many crashes in a 12-month period. I couldn’t stop racing on that note. I don’t want to look back and think I didn’t leave everything on the road.”