Having confirmed his plans to ride both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2012, Christian Vande Velde has also dismissed talk of retirement. The 35-year-old's contract expires at the end of 2012 and he had previously talked about ending his pro career after the London Olympics. However Vande Velde has now stated that he could carry on into 2013.
"I don’t want to put myself into a box with an expiration date because that's a little short-sighted. If I'm having a good time and my family are happy then I'll continue riding. The biggest thing right now is my family. How many years can you live in a foreign country with the kids away from their grandparents? That’s the biggest strain for me."
Vande Velde rode to 4th in the 2008 Tour de France but the following two seasons were disrupted by injuries as he struggled to regain his full form. However after a solid Tour in 2011 he found fine form, taking second overall in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
"When you have success it makes it all the easier so you and your family can see that all the sacrifices you and they are making are worth it but when you’re having rough times then that’s obviously much harder for the family to take."
Vande Velde's 2012 will centre on another push at the Tour de France, a race he is confident he can compete in for another top five spot. This year he finished in 17th, helping Tom Danielson break into the top 10, but the highlight of Vande Velde's race came on stage 2 when he and his Garmin-Cervelo teammates won their first stage and took the yellow jersey in the team time trial.
It was an emotional moment for the team but none more so that Vande Velde. The American has been with the team since its beginning to 2008 and has been an integral part of its development.
"I've never been so swept up in the moment as I was then. I didn't see it coming either, it really broadsided me on the bus. Over the years there aren't so many events that you put you heart and soul into like we've done with Slipstream since 2008 so to have that dream and for it to come to life, and to take that yellow jersey, it was something special."
"I remember that I crashed out of the Tour in a team time trial many years ago so to win it in 2011 was a neat day and one that I'll never forget. Not for anything physical or crazy but for all the pain and suffering we put into that programme and the progression we've made since we started the team. It wasn't about taking the most insane pull on the back straight or anything like that, it was about having all tools and putting them together."