Garmin-Transitions’ captain Christian Vande Velde has secured his future by signing a three-year contract extension that will keep him in argyle through 2012.
The 33-year-old is optimistic about what this season and the coming years hold for him and Garmin-Transitions.
“This is the best team for me to fulfill my potential,” Vande Velde told VeloNews. “I’m in a sweet spot right now. It makes it easier to make the sacrifices necessary to be a bike racer when you have the kind of support I have on this team.”
Vande Velde said he signed the contract extension at the New Year and said he thanked their team for the vote of confidence that will assure his place as GC captain at the U.S. team.
Vande Velde turned pro in 1998 and rode at such teams as U.S. Postal Service, Liberty Seguros and CSC before switching to Garmin in 2008, often providing loyal domestique services to captains like Lance Armstrong, Roberto Heras and Carlos Sastre.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters believed Vande Velde had more to offer and gave him the opportunity to ride as a team captain.
Vande Velde repaid that vote of confidence and surprised the cycling world with fourth place overall in the 2008 Tour de France.
Last year, his equally impressive eighth place following a horrific crash at the Giro d’Italia that left him with five broken vertebra, a cracked rib and fractured hip that was largely overlooked by the performance of teammate Bradley Wiggins, who climbed to fourth place.
“Everything is better this year. My body is better after the mayhem I put it through last year. The team will be a lot stronger because we’ve brought on some good riders,” Vande Velde said. “It’s all about the process to get ready for the Tour. I know that I will be better prepared than I was in 2008 and that will make a difference.”
Vande Velde will make his season debut at the Volta a Algarve in Portugal next month, with stops in Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and the Ardennes classics before the Giro d’Italia.
That means he likely won’t be racing at the Tour of California.
“Cali is Cali. I’ve done every race and I’ve always had a great time racing there,” he said. “It’s a great race. We don’t see that many spectators at any race, except at the Tour. But I know how my body works and the Giro is better for me before the Tour.”