The 37-year-old American was hoping to finish what would have been the final Tour de France of his career. Instead, he will head home before the Tour de France reaches the Pyrenees.
"I'm not in control of that [with how his Tour ends]. I havent been in control of that in the last few days," a dejected Vande Velde said. "It wasn't supposed to end this way but right now I'm happy to be out of pain off the bike, and I think it's going to be a couple of days before it all sinks in."
Vande Velde was caught behind riders who tangled on stage 5, but then found himself on the ground again the very next stage, not more than 11km into the race.
"It was a big crash coming over one of the bridges. At that point it was an easy decision to say enough is enough. I've got bruising [in crash today] so I've got both sides now."
"Christian suffered his second crash in three days today and unfortunately his injuries have forced him out of the Tour,” team doctor Prentice Steffen said in a statement issued by the Garmin-Sharp team.
“The multiple contusions and abrasions he suffered in today’s crash, compounded with the injuries he sustained on stage five, which included a blood clot in his neck muscle, a loosened screw in his clavicle plate and upper back injuries, made it impossible for him to finish the stage. We’ll examine him closely tonight and continue to evaluate his injuries.”
Vande Velde raced his first Grand Tour in the 1998 Vuelta a Espana, and his first Tour de France in 1999 with the US Postal Service team. He raced mainly as a domestique, first in the service of Lance Armstrong and then with Liberty Seguros and CSC before joining Garmin in 2008. Under the tutelage of Jonathan Vaughters, his fortunes improved significantly in the Tour, and he finished fourth overall that year.
His luck hasn't continued in the Grand Tours, however, and he suffered a number of devastating crashes in the years that followed and almost quit the sport in 2010.
He bounced back in 2011, but then was part of the US Anti-Doping Agency's case against Armstrong, and his testimony regarding the doping that took place on the US Postal Service team led him to receive a six-month, off-season ban for admitting to doping. He returned in March, but crashed out of the Volta a Catalunya, his first race back, with a broken collarbone.
Vande Velde hopes to bounce back in time to defend his title in the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado in August, but that is still in doubt because the crash damaged a plate that was holding his collarbone together. "I still have races to come so that's a positive thing. But the team is performing great so its nice to leave them in a good place, rather than in a shambles.
"Utah or Colorado maybe, we'll see how bad some of my injuries are. Definitely need to go and look at my back and collarbone to see how bad things are. Maybe I will refocus on the TTT worlds at the end of the year. It'll be a great last race."
Lampre-Merida leader upbeat as the race hits the Pyrenees
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) heads into the Pyrenean stages of the Tour de France more than a minute behind the overall contenders for the yellow jersey but is refusing to give up hope of a another good overall placing in Paris.
The Italian suffered a late puncture on stage six, failed to get back on to the main peloton and so lost 59 seconds. He is currently 51st in the general classification, 1:24 behind race leader Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge).
"Everything has gone quite well for us so far except for Thursday's stage when I punctured. I didn’t get back on and I lost a minute or so and that's not great. But I've already put it behind me and I'm not thinking about it," Cunego told Cyclingnews.
Cunego finished sixth in the 2012 Giro d'Italia and sixth in the 2011 Tour de France. He has struggled to find the same Grand Tour form that allowed him to win the 2004 Giro d'Italia but he remains upbeat about his chances in France, where he is joint team leader with Przemyslaw Niemiec at Lampre-Merida this year.
"I said back in the winter that I wanted to ride the Tour de France and I'm still convinced I can do well, it's what I've prepared for," he said.
"I still think I can do something in the overall classification. Now we'll see how things stand after the Pyrenees and then reassess the situation and my goals. It depends on how I'm feeling and how my rivals are performing. We're close to the Pyrenees, so we'll soon find out everybody's real form and see what they've got."
Contrary to reports that circulated on Thursday, Lance Armstrong and the Sunday Times have not reached a settlement.
The British newspaper launched a legal suit against Armstrong in December of last year after the former rider was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles following an extensive investigation by the USADA.
The move from the Sunday Times came as they attempted to recoup the money they had originally lost to Armstrong in 2004.
That year the newspaper paid Armstrong £300,000 (368,000 euros) after elements of the allegations raised in David Walsh's co-authored book "L.A. Confidentiel" were printed in an article printed on June 13, 2004 and written by Alan English. The suit was settled out of court in 2006 after London's High Court ruled that the article "meant accusation of guilt and not simply reasonable grounds to suspect." The judge said that the article strongly implied that Armstrong had taken performance enhancing drugs, and that The Sunday Times would have had to defend that position if the case went to trial.
On Wednesday NOS published a video in which Walsh stated that Armstrong would have to pay back the money with speculation that an agreement had been reached.
Walsh said during the video that, "I'm not looking for fame, I am looking for fairness… I can tell you now, Armstrong will pay back more than one million pounds to the Sunday Times because of course he perjured himself..."
However, Walsh told Cyclingnews that an agreement had not been signed, although the newspaper was still looking to settle.
"There hasn't been a settlement between the Sunday Times and Lance Armstrong. It's still a matter of negotiations and it's still not settled. That's not to say that the Sunday Times are not pursuing it, they are, but there has been no settlement. That's completely false," he told Cyclingnews.
The Schleck brothers are very close and have always raced together. Andy reacted angrily to the news that his older brother and mentor had not been given a new contract for when his suspension ends on July 14. The two were expected to ride the Vuelta a Espana together. Now their future with the team is up in the air and they are considering their options.
"I can't really understand the decision. I'm sad and disappointed but I don't know what to say. Maybe they will use it against me and fire me as well," Andy told the AFP news agency before the start of the stage.
"But there are other things behind this decision. I don't think it is anything to do with the suspension. To kick him out of the team after 11 months of giving him their support, I just don't understand it."
He told Cyclingnews that he is currently negotiating with both Andy and Frank Schleck for 2014 and evaluating 'different options" with the brothers.
Andy is convinced that he will race with Frank in 2014 but perhaps not at Trek.
"We'll be together next year…" he said after the finish in Albi. Asked if that means he will leave the current squad and perhaps race for a rival team, Andy said: "Everything is possible…"
Staying motivated for the mountains
He revealed that the news of Frank's dismissal had been a blow but that he is trying to stay motivated on the Tour de France and good performance after a difficult and injury-hit 12 months.
"I have to some how keep on going," he said.
"For Frank it's not super. It's not a question of extra motivation. I just hope it does not break me. Not break me, but not slow me down. I try to think of the good things. That's how I keep going."
Schleck again finished in the front group on the stage to Albi. He currently 34th overall, 34 seconds down on Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge). He is 26 seconds down on Chris Froome (Team Sky) and 20 seconds behind (Alberto Contador).
"So far I'm feeling good. Yesterday we passed the 1000km mark in the Tour and that's always a first little step," he said.
"In two days time we've got the rest day and so in the next two stages I think we'll see a real race. We'll see if I'm here and can play for the GC or if I'm here to win a stage or any other goals."
"It's hard to say how I'm going because I've never been on the limit, on the point of really, going deep and suffer. We'll see it tomorrow (Saturday). We'll see who is strong and not so strong."
The American all rounder has survived the tension and crashes of the first week in the race and with the mountains on the horizon he's one of Garmin's key riders.
Talansky came into the Tour de France as one of Garmin's most promising riders for success. Having cracked the top-ten in the Vuelta last year he has continued this season with a number of impressive and assured performances including second at Paris-Nice and sixth at the Criterium International.
Illness ruined his chances of overall success at this year's Dauphine but the 24-year-old has made a promising start to his Tour.
"We have strength in numbers and in order to accomplish what we want in the race we have to play to that," he told Cyclingnews.
Talansky qualifies for the white jersey competition this year. "Personally there's a chance for me and the white jersey so we're looking out for that but we also have ambitions for stage wins and the overall and everything like that."
Instead, he tugged at his jersey and acknowledged his team’s critical contribution to the win. The 23-year-old Slovakian said he had a sprint train today – and one that had lasted 160km.
The win breaks a run of four lesser podium spots in this Tour, and deals a powerful blow to rivals’ hopes of wresting the green jersey from his shoulders.
"I am very happy with what the team did today and without them it would have been impossible for me to get the result," he said before hitting out at internet critics who, he said, speculated that the Cannondale sprint train was weak compared to the Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma-QuickStep formations.
"At the beginning of this Tour I told everybody that I’m not here with a team that is built around me to launch me in a sprint. We have a different tactic this year and what my team did today was a sprint train, but it was for 160km."
The 206km between Montpellier to Albi was a classic Tour stage through somnolent, heat-weary countryside of south west France. The Italian team’s strategy, Sagan revealed, had been to jettison green jersey rivals such as Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish on the Col de la Croix de Mounis and take maximum points at the intermediate sprint in Viane Pierre-Segade – a strategy Sagan fulfilled to the letter.
He added: "We aimed to drop the other sprinters at the intermediate sprint. After that we saw there was a break and so my teammates came and asked me why we didn’t carry on – maybe you can win the stage, they said."
And so the Cannondale squad maintained the relentless pace-setting until chance of the grupetto containing Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) was eliminated with less than 40km to go.
Despite John Degenkolb’s (Argos Shimano) spirited charge through a tiny gap in the final metres in Albi, Sagan ended the day with a victory that goes a long way to closing down the green jersey ambitions of his rivals.
The win moves him nearly 100 points clear in the competition and means even if nearest rival Greipel won two stages and the Slovakian failed to take a single point, he would still hold the jersey with two thirds of the race still to come.
Despite the extended lead, Sagan insists it is still too early to think about taking the green jersey.
"Today the intention was to take a few points and we got more than we expected this morning. The Tour is very long and we still have 14 stages to go. Anything can happen so I think it’s too early to have a strategy. We go day by day."
BMC leader picks the finish at Ax 3 Domaines as the big day
Cadel Evans (BMC) happily stopped to sign autographs before the start of stage seven of the Tour de France to Albi, apparently relaxed and confident before the race heads into the Pyrenees for the first real showdown between the contenders for overall victory.
The 2011 Tour de France winner can count on the support of teammate Tejay van Garderen, with the young American also a real contender this year after his impressive ride in 2012, when he finished fifth overall and won the best young rider's white jersey.
Evans is lying 22nd overall, 31 seconds behind Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge). He is 23 seconds behind major rival Chris Froome (Sky), with Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) 17 seconds ahead of him. Van Garderen is two places behind Evans, also at 31 seconds.
Evans lost those precious seconds because BMC finished an unexpected ninth in the team time trial. That has been the veteran Australian's only disappointment of the first week of this year's Tour de France.
"I am disappointed to be so far back on time already from the team time trial. That was a bit of a blow," Evans said.
"Team Sky is a bit quieter this year in the first week, but of course we will see in the Pyrenees how quiet they really are…"
"For the most part, the GC riders are riding really conservatively, not really trying to get into the breakaways, which means that the start (of the Tour) hasn't been as difficult as they have been in past years. I can't explain that. Maybe the guys that normally go in breakaways know how hard the second and third weeks will be."
Evans, like many of his rivals, expects Saturday's first mountain finish to Ax 3 Domaines to shake up the overall classification and show who really is a challenger in 2013. Sunday's stage to Bagneres-de-Bigorre includes five classified climbs but ends with a 30km descent to the finish.
"I think the time differences are more likely to be up Ax 3 Domaines, where as there will be a downhill finish to Bagneres de Bigorre," he pointed out.
"With a long downhill, it's a bit hard to make a selection because you really have to make such a big difference. The first hilltop finish is more important. It's also tactical. Everyone is looking at each other and getting an idea of how they are going compared to their rivals."
Monfort, currently riding the Tour de France at the assistance of Frank's younger brother Andy, told Cyclingnews that he did not understand why the team management had decided to ditch Frank Schleck with his ban set to expire within a matter of days.
"It's sad to hear that news. I think Frank deserves to be back in the peloton, especially as it wasn't a doping case," Monfort said after the conclusion of stage 7 to Albi.
Frank Schleck now finds himself without a team for the remainder of the 2013 and no contract for the following season. The matter is complicated by the brothers' repeated instance that they will always ride for the same team.
Monfort added his support, adding that he wished Frank Schleck a speedy return to racing. "We don't understand but we have to accept the situation and I hope he'll be back this year, and if not then next year with big morale and fight," he said.
"It's the management who decide and I'm not in the management. I don't know what happened but it's true that it's strange."
With Trek confirmed as the owners of the team's licence for 2014 the American bike company are currently in the middle of organising their roster for next season. Monfort, like the Schlecks is another rider without a confirmed future, although the Belgian all rounder should have little trouble finding suitors should Trek fail to capitalize on the rider's availability.
"I don't know yet," Monfort said when Cyclingnews asked him about his future and if he will stay with the team.
"I hope and I feel good in this team but no body has discussed this with me yet. We'll see. It will be decided during the Tour or soon after."
Matters at hand mean the Belgian will have to put aside contract thoughts with the mountains of the Tour de France edging ever closer. With Andy Schleck surviving the first week relatively unscathed - bar the news of his brother - the team will be hoping that the 2010 Tour winner can rekindle his top form when the road points upwards.
"He looks good but we have to wait for the first mountain stage. The Tour has been hard but not super hard with mountain climbs," Monfort added.
Of course Monfort was by Schleck's side during arguably the Luxembourg rider's greatest hour when on Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour he soloed to a memorable win atop the Galibier.
"It will be difficult to make the same scenario once again and that was a super day and my best souvenir as being a teammate, ever. I hope to make it [happen] once again."