By Kirsten Robbins in Solvang, California
Brian Vandborg has had his share of ups and downs during his five years as a professional, but the Danish rider is back in the ProTour after a year spent with a continental squad in his home country. He is now looking forward to a season of working with Ivan Basso, his former teammate at CSC.
In 2006, Vandborg had a breakthrough performance at the world championships time trial, placing fourth after holding the fastest time for much of the day. He signed a two-year contract with the Discovery Channel team, but when that squad folded at the end of 2007, his career came to a virtual standstill.
"I supposedly had a two-year contract with Discovery, and I didn't have my best year but I thought I did OK. Then the team stopped and so did my contract," Vandborg told Cyclingnews
The team ended after failing to find a replacement sponsor in August of 2007, rather late in the year for starting new contract negotiations. "That was a tough time to find a new team for last year. So I was riding on a Danish continental team, and it was kind of hard for me to stay motivated."
Vandborg rode with Basso at CSC from 2004-2006, and then again for the brief period in 2007 when the Italian was also on the Discovery Channel team. He was able to use the connection with Basso to get a contract on the Italian's Liquigas squad. "I've been on teams with Ivan for three-and-a-half years, and he knows what I stand for. He knows that I'm loyal and that if I have a job to do I will do it."
His work for Basso ended on Friday however, when the Italian dropped out of the Tour of California after injuring his knee in the warm-up for the time trial (see above).
Vandborg, a time trial specialist, said he wanted to do something special in Solvang, but was not feeling up to it. "I wanted to go as hard as I can – it's a Danish city and I'm from Denmark, but I just cruised it. I'm having some asthma troubles – the rain made all that happen.
"It was better to just try and recover and hopefully do something over the following two days."
He finished in 49th place, 2:35 behind stage winner and overall leader Levi Leipheimer, and was his team's second top finisher behind Vincenzo Nibali, who placed 28th.