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Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) abandoned the race with a broken collarbone.
American's recovery on track after surgery
Nearly three weeks after crashing out of the Giro d'Italia, Christian Vande Velde is back on the bike and searching for form in the Spanish Pyrenees.
The Garmin-Tranisitions' Tour leader broke his collarbone in the third stage of the Giro (pictured right) - the sixth occasion he's suffered that injury in his career - but he has spent the last six days training at altitude in Spain. He'll remain there until June 9, before starting the Tour de Suisse two days later.
"It's going well and it's good to be up in the mountains riding my bike," Vande Velde told Cyclingnews from his training base near Andorra.
"I have a soigneur with me and Matt Wilson comes out soon. I'm just trying to recruit as many people as possible, and then my family are coming up too."
Vande Velde's Giro crash mirrored last season's events when he crashed out of the race but with far more serious injuries. That year he sustained three fractured vertebrae, a cracked pelvis in addition to the two broken ribs, meaning that this year's recovery period has been much shorter and far less painful.
"With a collarbone break you don't have to take any real time off - it's just for mental wellbeing - but I was on the trainer after two days."
"But when I crashed I just wanted to crawl up into a ball and go away. I had my days when I was down but you just pick yourself up and dust yourself down. There's no reason crying about it."
Vande Velde's collarbone surgery was carried out in Belgium and he now has matching metal plates in each shoulder, something he joked about with his friends and family. "I'm bionic now, right?" he asks.
"Overall I can't complain about the recovery. It's going really well and I've been doing five hour rides," he explained.
Still, without hard racing in his legs from the Giro, Vande Velde is aware that his training programme has been about making the best of a bad situation; the pressure isn't telling in the American's attitude, however.
"You can't simulate the Giro in training. You do that and you're going to kill yourself. I've got a different plan now and I'm training really well here. I've got way more fitness than last year. Last year I rode the Tour of Suisse with just two weeks of training in my legs. I couldn't even ride up my driveway at one point because of the pain."
The inevitable question therefore is how well will Vande Velde do in the Tour come July. Having finished fourth in 2008 and eighth the following year, the team will be looking for him to compete amongst the best.
"My goal is to do my personal best. Has my preparation been hindered? Yes. But by how much I don't know. I got top ten last year and I was in a much worse place than I am now.
"I'm just going to do my best. I'm not doing anything earth shattering in training but each day I'm getting a little bit better."