BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — We all watched as Christian Vande Velde fired his final bullets for Garmin-Barracuda teammate Ryder Hesjedal on the high mountains of the Giro d’Italia, a bit awestruck. Hesjedal wore pink in the end, but that victory belonged in part to Vande Velde. He was in Boulder in June, honing that form ahead of the Tour de France.
“I feel good,” Vande Velde told VeloNews after a training ride was cut short by bad air quality due to a nearby fire. “I feel better than I have in a long time. I’m not a great trainer, but this is obviously going pretty well.”
Vande Velde, who has finished fourth in the world’s biggest bike race, was but one name in a star-studded training camp pulled together by Allen Lim, the vaunted sports physiologist. Vande Velde put in day after day of hard climbing on Boulder’s steep roads, logging nearly 10,000 feet of climbing some rides.
Taylor Phinney participated, prepping for his Olympic time trial and road race. Evelyn Stevens was in Boulder as well, putting in hard training for the London road race. Vande Velde was the impetus for camp, as he was planning on being in Boulder with Lim to make himself ready for the Tour de France. Teammate Dave Zabriskie joined, as well as cyclocrosser Tim Johnson.
“It’s just having this exposure to altitude. Climbing. Just big work,” he said. Vande Velde is hoping to have better acceleration on the Tour climbs than he had in Italy, though he could have fooled most people. “I put in a lot more than I expected, but it was worth it,” he said.
Garmin will arrive at the Tour with a group capable of doing some damage — Vande Velde, Zabriskie, Tom Danielson, Tyler Farrar, Robbie Hunter, Dan Martin, David Millar and Johan Vansummeren.
Zabriskie, with this much time trialing, could be in the mix. Hesjedal’s form in Italy was irrefutable, though how well he recovers from the effort remains to be seen.
Danielson rode to third in the Amgen Tour of California, and he could better his ninth-place Tour finish from last year. Whom the team rallies around will depend on the flow of the race.
“I’ve always wanted to do a good Tour, and Ryder obviously just won the Giro. So it’s easy to just say he’s the leader rolling into it,” Vande Velde said. “He deserves that right now. If things change within the first 10 days, then they change.”
The tour begins on Saturday, June 30, in Liège.