American pro Christian Vande Velde confirmed Tuesday that he is close to reaching an agreement with Roberto Heras’s Liberty Seguros team.
The U.S. Postal team rider told VeloNews that he has been negotiating with the Liberty squad since late last year and that the two parties are close to finalizing a deal, “although nothing has been signed at this point.”
Vande Velde, who spends much of his season based in Gerona, Spain, said that he still has a year remaining on his current contract, “and some of those details need to be worked out,” before he can formally make the switch to the team now headed by his former Postal teammate Heras.
“We’ve always had a good rapport,” Vande Velde said of Heras. “I’ve ridden with him at the Tour, at the Vuelta a España and at the Vuelta a Cataluyna.” Vande Velde’s reputation as a selfless lieutenant was enhanced at the 2002 Vuelta a España, riding exceptionally well in the mountains in support of Heras, who eventually finished second that year.
Vande Velde, who is currently at his home in Colorado, said he expects to remain in the U.S. for “another two weeks or so.”
The 27-year-old American has been a member of U.S. Postal since 1998 “and it’s pretty much all I’ve known for my career.”
“But really, I don’t think my life will change all that much, well, except for the jersey,” he said. “I’ll be in the same town, have same friends, same riding partners… I just hope that I don’t drift back to the wrong team car next year.”