John Vande Velde is a former US Olympic and national champion cyclist, successful six-day track racer, former vice president of USA Cycling, builder of the infamous Vandedrome portable velodrome... oh, and father of current Tour de France GC contender Christian Vande Velde of Garmin-Chipotle. He is currently working with the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid committee on the cycling event venues and courses from his home in nearby Lemont, Illinois. Cyclingnews' North American Editor Mark Zalewski caught up with the elder Vande Velde while he and his mother were taking in some local cycling at Superweek.
"I was screaming at the TV!" John Vande Velde, father of Christian Vande Velde, said about watching the 10th stage of the Tour de France where his son was climbing in the lead group of contenders on the climb to Hautacam. "I was between praying, exercising and yelling at the TV! I woke everyone up in the household because I was going crazy."
It is a familiar tale to have one's own father be your number one fan, and the tale is not any different with America's top Tour de France hope Christian Vande Velde. But having your father understand the intricacies of your sport at the highest level is a little more rare – such as with Tiger Woods and his father – for John Vande Velde is himself a former top-level cyclist that competed in two Olympics (1968 and 1972) and was a top six-day racer in Europe. This gives him enhanced insight into his son's ability and performance – though always taken with a grain of salt, as he is understandably biased.
When the Garmin-Chipotle team won the opening team time trial of the Giro d'Italia this year Christian was the one to don the maglia rosa, and he called his father from behind the podium just before the moment.
"He called me immediately after the team time trial in the Giro," said John. "He was standing behind the podium ready to get his pink jersey and he said, 'Dad, do you believe this?' And I said, 'Yeah, I believe it!'"
Read the full feature about Christian Vande Velde's father.