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Christian Vande Velde will return to major competition next month at the Vuelta a España.
Vande Velde crashed out of the 2010 Tour in stage 2 with four broken ribs. Garmin-Transitions officials told VeloNews he will return to Europe this week and start the Vuelta with ambitions.
“It depends on how his recovery goes, but he would like to get a grand tour in his legs. It will only help him next year,” said Garmin-Transitions sport director Matt White. “The Vuelta’s an important race for us. We’ll bring a strong team.”
Vande Velde will race a few events before the Vuelta to get his racing legs back, but will start the Spanish grand tour without too much pressure to perform in the GC .
The most important thing for Vande Velde is to get through the Vuelta without crashing. Vande Velde is looking to overcome a rash of crashes, including early departures from the 2009 and 2010 Giros d’Italia and this year’s Tour.
Vande Velde bounced back from his crash in the 2009 Giro to finish eighth overall in last year’s Tour. This year, he also crashed out of the Giro but couldn’t test his form in the Tour when he was among numerous riders who fell during stage 2 to Spa.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters said it’s important for Vande Velde to return to competition without putting too much pressure on himself.
“He’s got to set the reset button,” Vaughters said. “After a few crashes, you get tentative. You start grabbing the brakes. You remember the crash, you remember lying on the asphalt, you remember the ambulance ride. I understand where he is psychologically. Maybe I can help him overcome that.”
Also set to race the Vuelta will be sprinter Tyler Farrar, who abandoned the Tour after he also fell in stage 2 to Spa.
Farrar won a breakthrough grand tour stage in last year’s Vuelta and then claimed two stage victories in this year’s Giro. Farrar will see support from lead-out man Julian Dean.
Dave Zabriskie and David Millar are also expected to start the Vuelta for Garmin-Transitions.