Christian Vande Velde kicked off the 2008 Giro d'Italia in dramatic fashion for Slipstream-Chipotle's Grand Tour debut, donning the race's maglia rosa after crossing the finish line at the head of a winning team time trial effort. As Vande Velde and his Garmin-Slipstream teammates face the pressure of repeating the feat at the centenary Giro, the feeling of last year's performance still resonates.
"There was a lot of emotion flowing. We were the underdogs and that's the perfect situation going into the race," Vande Velde told Cyclingnews. "It was just a fun time. I remember stopping after the race knowing that we did the best we could and if anyone beat us hats off to them."
Being a part of the Giro's centenary edition provides an additional appeal for Vande Velde. "In 2003 it was the 100th anniversary of the Tour and I missed that so I'm really excited about being a part of the 100th anniversary of the Giro. It's just a little bit different, starting with the team time trial again and ending in Rome. It's going to be a spectacular race with the long time trial and the short mountain stage."
Vande Velde has opted to utilise technology to preview the 2009 Giro route.
"I haven't seen anything first-hand, but I've looked at it through Google Maps and Google Earth. That time trial in Cinque Terre looks unbelievable. I don't think anyone knows what's going to come of it. It's going to be a really cool race from the fan's perspective watching it on television."
Approaching the Giro d'Italia, 32-year-old Vande Velde won the first road race (non-TT or classification win) of his professional career at Paris-Nice and followed that performance up with a third place finish at Vuelta al País Vasco's stage four.
"I've been training really well. I've been focused on time trialling and on my climbing. I feel more confident and more rested than I did last year.
"I didn't race as much as I did last year. The Tour of Georgia didn't even exist this year so I wasn't able to do that and I opted not to do the Ardennes Classics. I stayed home and trained so I could be with my family because these next few months are going to be very long."
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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.