Today's Brabantse Pijl will be CSC rider Christian Vande Velde's first serious race after injuring his back at the start of the season, followed by Paris-Camembert next Tuesday.
"My plan was to race Setmana Catalana, but now I can't cause we were not invited. I was pretty bummed about that, cause it starts about 40 k's from my house," said the 28 year-old American on team CSC's website, www.team-csc.com. "Now I'll do the other races instead. They are all good races, even though they're not ProTour races, but it's really hard for me to get going for the one day races, to be one the road for a week and then race only 2-3 times."
Speaking about his back injury, Vande Velde said the problem occurred when his seat slipped a few centimetres, which caused him to become more fatigued than normal. "It's an old injury, it happened in 2003. Actually, after the Vuelta in 2002, I had a bad crash in Paris-Tours, and when I started the 2003 season, my back really gave me some problems," he recalled.
Team CSC's therapist Ole Kaare Føli has been treating him since the injury happened, but Vande Velde now knows its important to take the necessary time required before getting back into the swing of things. "After a treatment, it's good for a couple of days and then you're back. It's getting better, it's a little bit of a muscle imbalance, that's all, but it takes a lot of time to reboot the system."
"My main goal is still the Giro," said Vande Velde about his season's goals, "even though Bjarne is trying to keep the pressure off me, which I totally appreciate, more than he knows. I know that as long as I'm healthy, I'll be a great asset to the team, but I don't want to go there if I'm not a 100 percent for Ivan [Basso], 'cause I know he's going for the win."
So far, the American is content in his new surroundings after a one-year stint at Liberty Seguros, and before that, six years with US Postal. Vande Velde also acknowledged Bjarne Riis' innovative though logical approach to training, where more is not always better, and appreciated being able to use his time trial bike so early on in the season.
"Manolo [Saiz] wouldn't let us ride our time trial bikes, not even at the race. We'd get down and we'd warm up on them, and then we'd race. Not even if we had some time left the day before, he wouldn't let us ride them," he said.