A few weeks ago, Christian Vande Velde and Jonathan Vaughters did a Q & A at the Don Beyer dealership in Falls Church. Ã‚Â I wasn’t there, however, I had a friend take my recorder to get it on tape. Ã‚Â Despite a few setbacks (computer crash), the transcription has begun. Ã‚Â Please bear in mind that the actual Q & A is about an hour long, and that’s a lot of typing. Ã‚Â I will cut this up into multiple entries. Ã‚Â I appreciate the patience, and hope you all enjoy. Ã‚Â When Levi LeipheimerÃ‚Â is in town, I will have some more exciting content. Ã‚Â In the meantime, enjoy the Q & A with our favorite Burrito/GPS team:
Jonathan Vaughters: So for those of you who are going to watch the race tomorrow, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be interested to know that we were a step and a half away in the month of May from not being called Garmin/Chipotle but actually being called team ING, so it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite work out and they sponsored the race instead.Ã‚Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how I met Mark (Sommers) through that whole process.Ã‚Â One of our Sponsors, John Steward has turned into a great friend and great supporter and he introduced us to Mark and so here we are today.Ã‚Â Obviously I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk to you guys too much and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure you guys have a million questions.Ã‚Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the whole point of this: a Q and A about all the random little stories youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve heard about the Tour and rumors and so on and so forth so we can confirm or deny or neither confirm or deny all those.Ã‚Â First of all, thanks to your dealership (Don Beyer: http://www.donbeyervolvo.com/) for having us here today because without clubs like, well, this is how Christian started racing, this is how I started racing and without the sponsors that support local clubs, without the people who organize local clubs that organize local junior programs, you know you never have riders that end up racing in the Tour de France from the US and you never have those riders racing in the Tour de France, you never have the sport exposed to a broader media.Ã‚Â It really all starts in just what you guys are doing.Ã‚Â Having a club that races and supports junior riders up and coming and with programs like this, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the root of what American cycling is.Ã‚Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the reason that weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re happy to come out and do these things.Ã‚Â Beyond that, thanks for having us and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll introduce my friend and former roommate.Ã‚Â You should definitely ask questions about when he and I used to live together for years in Girona (Spain).Ã‚Â Christian Vande Velde (applause)
Christian Vande Velde: Like Jonathan says, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fun to be here and here for the end of the season and tomorrow, thank God, will be the last day of the season.Ã‚Â I was riding yesterday and was like Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am really tired now.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great to wind down the season in our NationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital here in DC.Ã‚Â I rode here one time, but it was on the Arlington side.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m happy to race here.Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a great race and hopefully we can make it into a historic one for many years to come.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure you guys have a bunch of questions like Jonathan said, so fire away.
Q: What happened to he giant burrito you carried out on the podium?Ã‚Â We missed it in the Giro when you picked up the pink jersey.
CVV: I was lookinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for that thing too, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been cool!Ã‚Â (Laughter) ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s completely lost on everyone in Europe.Ã‚Â TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re like: Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhat the hell is that?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã‚Â They want to know, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwhat is that, and why do you haveÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what it is at all.Ã‚Â When you explain Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwell, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a burritoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, they are like Ã¢â‚¬Ëœhuh?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã‚Â I think the Italian cuisine could learn something form Chipotle.Ã‚Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good question.Ã‚Â WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll look into that.
JV: Actually, on that note, at the Tour of California last year when we had the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœpodium burritoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, the day that Schwarzenegger gave out the awards, I forget who was the best young rider that day, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s getting ready to bring out the podium burrito onto the stage and the GovernorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s secret serves tackled him, pulled it out of his hands.Ã‚Â So the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœpodium burritoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ tends to be disruptive sometimes.
Q: How old were you when you started riding?Ã‚Â How old were you when you started racing and training, as opposed to just going out and riding?
JV: ChristianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dad had him training at 2 years old.Ã‚Â Christian doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know that.Ã‚Â
CVV: I always had a bike and started riding my bike when I was 3 and always had the nice bike.Ã‚Â I never really started training or taking it seriously until I was 16 years old and that was the first year I was racing with a USCF license and did National Championships.Ã‚Â Before that my dad didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take it too seriously because he realized how hard of a sport it is and truthfully he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want me riding in the roads in Chicago by myself.Ã‚Â Jonathan has had a more illustrious junior career. He started racing when, what, you were like 12?
JV: Yeah, I started racing when I was 12 and got dead last in my first race.Ã‚Â It was a time trial!Ã‚Â I got serious by the time I was about 14.Ã‚Â I never really rode a bike very much before I raced a bike.Ã‚Â It was sort of like I just went straight into racing which might explain the whole last place in the first race thing.Ã‚Â I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know you had to train for an event to race in an event, which is why Christian will tell you that I never did realize that (laughter).Ã‚Â Yeah, I think I a good age to start is about 14.Ã‚Â Riding before that is hard.Ã‚Â You can start riding at 10, 11 or 12 but start racing when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re 14.Ã‚Â Earlier than that is hard to really have the discipline you need in the sport, and you really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to be that discipline.Ã‚Â A 12 year old kid that is super focused, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to carry that focus forward for 15 years if you want to have a professional career and by the time youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re 16 and youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already done 25000 miles of training and youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re thinking Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwow, cars and girls look more fun than trainingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.Ã‚Â I think to ride for fun at 12 or 13 is great, race seriously at 14 and then if it really works out and get serious, than you can start to do your own Junior World Championships and Junior National Championships and stuff like that when your 16 or 17 years old.Ã‚Â Any younger than that and you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t focus, and older than that and you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite get the really cool bike handling skills you get by having your neurological system form around riding a bike when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really young.Ã‚Â
Q: How many hours or miles would you ride [when your younger]?
JV: Well when I was 12 or 13, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know, I was riding a bike maybe 80 or 90 miles a weekÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know.Ã‚Â At 14 years old, I can remember averaged during the summer or spring 200 miles a weekÃ¢â‚¬Â¦there abouts.Ã‚Â Maybe not as much as Christian, but he beat me later in training.
CVV: My dad made me work full time in a Golf course when I was 16.Ã‚Â It was a bunch of illegal immigrants and myself.Ã‚Â That was the way of him making me realize that I needed to train hard and be serious and not work for $5 an hour.Ã‚Â I trained when could and I guess it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t until I was 17 that I stillÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t knowÃ¢â‚¬Â¦You realize that you really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t train that hard as a kid, but I used to train so damn hard it was unbelievable.Ã‚Â I could never do the same things I used to with like a 220 heart rate at all times.Ã‚Â 200 miles a week sounds about right.
JV: I set Christian up with a coach this year and he made up for all those slacker years this year.
CVV: No doubt.
Q: So, Christian, after you train to peak for the Tour and then you go on to win the Tour of Missouri.Ã‚Â After you peak, how do you switch it to get yourself motivated and keep your legs going?
CVV: I took a vacation to China!Ã‚Â (Laughter)Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great training in Beijing!Ã‚Â I rode the equivalent of the expressway every day.Ã‚Â Crazy smog! I guess it was a forced stress to go to the Olympics.Ã‚Â We had the one big day and we trained a little bit before hand, but those days in between, before and after, we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a choice but to relax and rest up a little bit.Ã‚Â You just have to stay on the bike.Ã‚Â For me itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just that I have to keep the engine going, and if not, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s over, so I made myself go out and do the US Pro Criterium against all my will.Ã‚Â Then I went on vacation in Wisconsin where I grew up on a lake and had a great time training and riding my bike.Ã‚Â From there is was Nationals, and I had one more week of training.Ã‚Â You have to do the minimum but you still have to do it.Ã‚Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably the hardest thing.Ã‚Â You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to do crazy intervals, but you do have to do the time and look after yourself relatively well.Ã‚Â DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t finish the keg of beer.Ã‚Â Start it, but donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t finish it.
Q: Now that the season is over, how much do you ride the bike?Ã‚Â How much time do you take off?
CVV: I did that before and now I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do that anymore.Ã‚Â I get a little too week and I lose all the foundation that I worked so hard to get.Ã‚Â I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like to put myself in too far of a hole.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not going to ride very day, but if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a nice day, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to go out and ride my bike.Ã‚Â I go with friends and go to the gym and stuff like that.Ã‚Â I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do Ã¢â‚¬ËœOctober 1st, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not riding until HalloweenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.Ã‚Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how it used to be and itsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t knowÃ¢â‚¬Â¦because I really do enjoy riding my bike these days , and I really do when itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a nice day and take advantage of it.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m getting old.
JV: To follow up with that, if you follow ChristianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s season, he started out 3rd in Tour of California and then was top 10 in Vuelta Castilla y Leon, and then won the time trial in Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, 7th overall at the Tour of Georgia, the Pink Jersey at the Giro.Ã‚Â I think more and more in the last two or three years, moving away from the peak for one big race scenario, I think this year that if you look at most of the top riders, they were good the whole year.Ã‚Â Sastre maybe a little bit of an exception to that, but Cadel Evans was winning races in April, the Schleck brothers were good all year, Christian was good all year, so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little bit of a movement away from sort of being really focus for three weeks and then everything else crumbling around that as opposed to being good all year and I think that is one of the big things we did right as a team this year especially with Christian.Ã‚Â It doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t work for everybody, but for Christian it works will in that for him to race well at the top level, he really has to race the early season races.Ã‚Â He canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just be sort of doodling around and get 50h place because you never get the real final adrenaline that pushes yourself up to the next level because youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in the hunt for the win.Ã‚Â If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in the back with the pack, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not really pushing yourself that hard, so if we get him to a fitness level where he comes into the season in the hunt for the win immediately, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s able to push himself a little bit harder than he would normally, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what actually made the difference in getting that last little bit.Ã‚Â Of course you have to balance that push for the last percent with equal amounts of rest and down time and really watching after yourself.
Q: My co-worker donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really follow cycling as closely as I do, but the discussions around the water cooler is that the return of Armstrong next year seems to be good for big cycling, but what kind of impacts, especially negative impacts, to Garmin/Chipotle might you experience if he were to go to a different team?
JV: Well, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not going to be on our team, I can tell you that.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve said this a couple of times, but I think I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really have an opinion on his coming back.Ã‚Â I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know whether he is going to be good, great, bad, whatever.Ã‚Â I venture to guess heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good athlete, so heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not going to be just a pack filler.Ã‚Â The way I see it, it will bring a lot of attention to the sport, and he seems to be, according to the Vanity Fair article, seems to be really pushing that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be very transparent about his approach and willing to take a lot of open testing up to the Tour, so as long as that attention is there and that transparency is there, then I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a really big opportunity for us in that as long as we beat him, then we become elevated to a place where we would have never had the opportunity otherwise because there will be more people watching and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be saying Ã¢â‚¬ËœWow, Lance Armstrong is racing.Ã‚Â Who is this guy that just kicked his ass?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã‚Â We would never have the opportunity otherwise; it literally could open up our team to a new audience that we never would have been exposed to.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m seeing it as an opportunity.Ã‚Â That being said, we have to make good on that opportunity, we have to be ready for battle.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll let Christian continue on that note.
CVV: No. (laughter)
More to come….