Culture

Vande Velde’s View: Saddling up for the season finale

It's August and already the end of the season is in sight. We just finished our training camp in Austria followed by the Sacshen Tour. The training camp was a necessity for some, myself included, and helped us regain our focus for the second part of the season. We rode all day and returned home to watch the drama unfold in the Tour. But not too much drama ever really occurred. From the training camp in Austria we limped into the Saschen Tour in rainy East Germany. The team started off pretty slowly but caught up toward the end of the five days of racing, winning the last two stages.

By Christian Vande Velde, CSC professional cycling team

It’s August and already the end of the season is in sight. We just finished our training camp in Austria followed by the Sacshen Tour. The training camp was a necessity for some, myself included, and helped us regain our focus for the second part of the season. We rode all day and returned home to watch the drama unfold in the Tour. But not too much drama ever really occurred.

From the training camp in Austria we limped into the Saschen Tour in rainy East Germany. The team started off pretty slowly but caught up toward the end of the five days of racing, winning the last two stages. After the final stage I ran to the airport and returned to the rain-forest humidity of Girona.

My last week of training ended on a good note – the temperature only hit 80 degrees. For the last month or so, training had meant riding from gas station to gas station filling up water bottles and coming home looking like a salt lick.

On our long rides we jumped every time Michael Barry’s phone rang, as Dede was past her due date. I was hoping for his sake and mine that she wouldn’t call when we were 100km away from home – Michael surely would’ve destroyed me all the way home with the anticipation of seeing his first-born.

Next up is the Tour of Benelux. But since we aren’t going to Luxembourg anymore, there isn’t any Lux at the end, so it’s the Tour of Bene, I guess, or just the Eneco Tour (sponsor of the race). Should be a cool race with a little bit of the classics mixed in with some time trials. Then we’re off to San Sebastian and finishing off with the Vuelta a España, which starts in late August. That should keep me busy for the next seven weeks -30 days of racing over that period should be sufficient.

I’m looking forward to the Vuelta and racing in Spain again. I haven’t raced here in over a year, and that is a first for me. With the shift to the ProTour many races have changed hands and many teams have different goals and perspectives. Ours being a Danish-Italian-American mutt of a team, we haven’t set foot in Spain other than to return to our respective homes.

Time to listen to some Spanish tapes and take a siesta.

Editor’s note: Michael and Dede are the proud parents of a baby boy, Liam, and you can read all about it in Neal Rogers’s latest column. Meanwhile, Christian is sitting 61st in the Tour of Benelux, 6:30 back of race leader Rik Verbrugghe (Quick Step).