With Bradley Wiggins and Chrisitian Vande Velde both sitting pretty in the top 10 in the Tour de France, Garmin’s team director, Jonathan Vaughters has been happy for his team to stay out of the limelight while all of the talk surrounds the imminent battle between the two Astana leaders, Lance Armstrong and Alberto Condator.
Wiggins sits 46 seconds behind yellow jersey Rinaldo Nocentini in the standings with Vande Velde a further 38 seconds back. “We’re the typical underdog team. That’s what we’ve always been about,” Vaughters said, clearly aiming to deflect pressure off his two trump cards. “We were a squad that came out of nowhere with a different message and attitude that said something different. We kind of like being the Red Sox instead of the Yankees,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews at the stage finish.
Vaughters couldn’t hide his pleasure in the fact that his team has never before been in such a strong position leading into the Alps, having two riders in contention for the podium in Paris. “Two riders in the top 10 is a new experience for us, but tomorrow is the first day when you’ll see if there are any cracks in the competition before the Alps. Right now there are no answers as to what might happen.”
Vaughters was also quick to dismiss speculation of collaboration with other teams in order take on Astana, who have four riders in the top six. “Collaboration doesn’t have a place here. The tactic for tomorrow is to maintain, chug along, make the definitive breaks and stay out of trouble. It’s a day where the legs will do the talking more than tactics. Right now, I don’t see any weakness in Armstrong or Contador but whether Leipheimper or Klöden will be there, I really don’t know.”
Both Wiggins and Vande Velde are strong against the clock and should look upon the stage 18 time trial around Annecy with confidence. “Of course we want the smallest gaps before the individual time trial and everyone know that,” Vaughters said, perhaps suggesting that Astana and Saxo Bank would look to distance his two riders in the Alps.