In 2008 Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Barracuda) topped most people's expectations by finishing fourth in the Tour de France. To many, it seemed as though GC aspirations in a major Tour were out of the American's reach; he was a strong climber and time trialist but lacked the edge that would turn him from a reliable workhorse and domestique into a true team leader.
However his run at the Tour in 2008, and backed up by eighth the following year suggested that Vande Velde could maintain a top 10 presence in the future. Yet he crashed out of the 2010 Tour de France and in 2011 found himself as the support act that helped propel Tom Danielson into the top 10
This year Vande Velde is confident that he can once again lead the line for Garmin at the Tour. Despite his age (35) he believes that if he can discover the form that served him so well in 2008 that he can even challenge for a podium spot. A more confident rider, and with a number of strong performances towards the tail-end of 2011 suggest that his dream could become a reality.
In these two exclusive videos, Vande Velde talks to Cyclingnews about his Tour aspirations and why he'll return to the Giro d'Italia in 2012 as part of his Tour de France preparations.