Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Vande Velde’s Tour: Rest day!

Rest day number two. Man do we need this! We are all taking advantage of the down time. The first course of mountain stages has been hard and everyone needs to take a deep breath before going under for the last week in the Alps. Most people who are still in the race are going to finish at this point, but everyone still needs a rest every now-and-then; the riders, the staff, the mechanics, the directors… maybe even Lance. Sometimes I think that I'd rather just get on with it and finish one day earlier. Then I usually think differently. Our team was lucky enough to be at a golf course for

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

By Christian Vande Velde, Liberty-Seguros Professional Cycling

Rest day number two.

Man do we need this! We are all taking advantage of the down time. The first course of mountain stages has been hard and everyone needs to take a deep breath before going under for the last week in the Alps.

Most people who are still in the race are going to finish at this point, but everyone still needs a rest every now-and-then; the riders, the staff, the mechanics, the directors… maybe even Lance. Sometimes I think that I’d rather just get on with it and finish one day earlier. Then I usually think differently.

Our team was lucky enough to be at a golf course for the last two nights. We have very nice rooms on the course with air-conditioning and everything. Which would be nice if I didn’t have an anti-aircon European roommate. So I laid in my bed sweating last night thinking how nice it will be in Girona with the air-conditioning on and my wife next to me instead of Dariusz Baranowski.

The Postal Service has the reins of this race again and is not looking back. They have the answer to everything that has been thrown at them this far. And on Saturday they drove so hard that they took the morale out of a lot of the good riders before the race really started in honesty. It was an impressive display of strength, but it sure wasn’t fun being on the receiving end of it.

A tunnel of orange
Plateau de Baille and La Mongie were amazing experiences. La Mongie I rode by myself and was amazed at the support of Americans on the side of the mountain. Then, farther up the mountain I was broad sided by the wave of orange, the Basque. The Americans and the Basque seemed like they amounted to 90 percent of the people up there.

Some were good, some were great, some were drunk some were really drunk. With a few kilometers to go the Basque made a tunnel of orange that you had to go through. It was a bit crazy and I don’t think that I’ve ever had goose bumps on my legs like this climbing a mountain. I got to the top and realized that I had drug testing. I was pretty bummed thinking of the wait that I’d have, no shower, no food and the team would probably leave without me. Then Leah (my wife) maneuvered her way to me and gave me some company and a Snickers bar.

First bonus and first time that I kissed anyone in drug control. Then Valentine, one of our soigneurs, asked if I wanted to go home in a helicopter?

“Does the Pope wear a funny hat?” He didn’t get that one, but he understood my expression.

So suddenly drug control was cool and my teammate Jan (Hruska) was seriously jealous. It is his big dream to fly in a helicopter and that I got to fly home in one because of drug control and not winning a race was really beyond him.

So Thomas Voeckler, Didier Rous, a couple of other Frenchies that I didn’t know and I all climbed aboard and got to fly up over the Tourmalet and then puckered up as we plunged over the edge. Pretty funny and it was good to laugh after a hard day.

Unfortunately Leah couldn’t come with us. She was pretty upset as she was still stuck in traffic and I was home doing a trip that normally takes an hour in ten minutes. But, then again, she didn’t have to pee in a cup and then get jabbed in the arm.

Look beyond the jersey guys!
The next day was long and horrible. It took me 6.5 hours and I was in the first half of the peloton. 5200 meters of climbing and we didn’t exactly “roll out” nice and easy from the start. The attacks came from the first kilometer. Lance won and we knew it with 20 something minutes still to climb. I rode up Plateau de Baille with Eki and Pavel of Postal, as slow as we could. We were encouraged by the crazy fans just like the day before and the shared misery-loves-company concept.

I do have a bone to pick with some of the Americans. Some guys – most likely Americans, though they could have been Canadian – were going nuts for the Postal guys, understandably. They pushed the two Posties – a Czech and a Russian! – while chanting “USA USA USA!”

Of course, they neglected to push me the only American within sight! Complimenti, you patriotic morons.

But for the most part it was an awesome wave of encouragement. Thanks folks.

I got online for the first time today in two weeks. I had 135 E-mails waiting for me and now I feel bad not being able to respond earlier. Sorry everyone. I’m back online and I’ll try to keep you posted as best as I can.

Tuesday Morning
I’m on the bus on my way to the race right now on Tuesday morning. I’ve been up since 7:15 because of another blood control (my fourth). A little nervous about this last week, but confident that I will get see my parents and friends in Paris on Sunday.

Lance has the win in hand and just needs to hold it for a few more days and stay out of trouble. I really don’t see anything changing this week other than the gaps getting bigger in their respective places. I hope I’m wrong because it would make for some exciting racing, but I really don’t think so.

There are some people (our team included) who need to salvage a little bit of the Tour and are hoping for a good last week. It will be hard, but Postal need not lose too much sleep, because most of the guys hoping to do something this week are already at least 30 minutes behind on GC.

Either way, I’m feeling confident and coming into form. I’m still getting better… or maybe everyone else is just getting worse.

I dunno.