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American hope aims for Tour podium

America's Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) attacks his group

America's Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) attacks his group (Image credit: AFP)

Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Chipotle) believes he can claim a podium finish in his team's first Tour de France, as the race enters its second half. Vande Valde holds third place on general classification, after staying with overall contenders Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) on a challenging Stage 10.

"I was really pleased with my ride up Tourmalet and Hautacam," said Vande Velde. "It was a tough day and all the general classification riders were having a go. To still be in there and holding down third place overall well into the Pyrenees gives me confidence for the rest of the Tour."

Asked if he could ride up the the Champs-Élysées in a podium position at the end of July, America's highest ranked Tour rider responded confidently. "Yes, right now I believe I can," he said.

Vande Velde's performance has brought an even bigger than usual smile to Matt White's face. This year's Tour is White's first as a team sports director, having retired from professional riding at the end of 2007.

"Very happy so far, very happy," said White. "Third place in general classification is a good place to be when you are well into the mountains nearing half way in the Tour de France.

In addition to Garmin-Chipotle's experienced Tour riders, it has brought on some first timers for its Tour debut. Australian Trent Lowe is one such rider and has enjoyed being apart of an impressive Tour debut by the squad.

"It's pretty amazing actually," he said. "It is very intimidating because the pressure is always on and the roads are often very narrow and dangerous. Even in the controlled section at the start each day there are really dangerous situations with small roundabouts and poles in the ground and so on.

"But I'm starting to get used to it a bit," he said. "It is an amazing race."

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