Christian Vande Velde was satisfied with his performance on the difficult stage 13 from Vittel to Colmar, finish comfortably with the main group of favourites. Vande Velde came into the Tour in uncertain form after a serious crash in the Giro d’Italia and a slow recovery. However the Garmin-Slipstream leader rode strongly through the first week and now sits seventh overall, 1:24 behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini.
"My legs felt good but it was a crazy day from start to finish. Of course I was a little worried about crashing but we went hard on the second to last climb and it was hard for everyone," Vande Velde said after the stage.
The day saw all of the race favourites finish in the same group with no attacks coming from either Cadel Evans or Carlos Sastre – arguably the two riders who most needed to claw back vital seconds on Vande Velde and Co. "I don’t think anyone could attack and one more percent of effort and the race would have totally blow to shreds. We had on our rain jackets and all weighed about 100 pounds out there. The stage took a lot out of us."
Vande Velde’s Tour hasn’t been without hitches after he crashed on both the stages to Barcelona and Saint-Fargeau. "It’s been a Tour of survival," he said before the stage. "I’m not the kind of person to say I’m going to attack and it’s all about taking it day-by-day. I’ve surprised myself with how well I’ve been going but usually the third week in is my best in a Grand Tour."
Vande Velde will hope his tradition of week-three form continues with the Tour building towards an exciting final week and, in particular, a crucial stage to Le Grand-Bornand that features four first category climbs. "That will be the key stage," Vande Velde added.