Vande Velde’s bold Giro and Tour talk.

Back to Italy.

Short memory or fantasy supreme or renewed confidence?

Garmin-Cervelo’s elder statesman Christian Vande Velde says he wants to return to the scene of the crash. The 35 year old from Illinois wants another shot at the Giro d’Italia after crashing out of the race in 2009 and 2010.

“I know I’m going back on myself because I said I wouldn’t do the Giro again, and I hope I’m not going to be putting myself in harm’s way but I’ve come to realize that my body responds really well after a Grand Tour, and you could see that after this year’s Tour de France,” said Vande Velde.

The man has been crash prone in recent years but there’s no questioning his grand tour talents after his fourth place in the 2008 Grande Boucle. When he stays upright he’s a powerful force on the bike.

It’s just that staying upright has been the challenge. Only Chris Horner went through a worse period of crashes and injuries. Things got so bad at one point  that team manager Jonathan Vaughters feared for Vande Velde’s career and mandated that he just back away from the bike completely.

That enforced vacation seemed to have worked out and broke the vicious circle of crashes. Despite his mishaps in the Giro and Tour he still managed a strong 17th place in France. The hunger is back and with it the eternal hope of the aging optimist.

“I’m going to have GC aspirations at the Tour and I mean that,” he said. “The route suits me more than any other since 2008, and I’ve got a chance of doing well. I can replicate that result from 2008 and anything can happen, as you saw with guys like Wiggins and Froome this year, but with this course and my maturity on the bike, I can go top 10 and then if everything goes great then top five and the podium.”

As bad-man Robert Duval said to sheriff John Wayne in the movie True Grit: “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.”

Personally, we’re pulling for Vande Velde because he’s a classy and articulate guy and a great teammate. Being on the far side of fifty, we’re big fans of the old guys: Horner, Voigt, Hincapie and Vande Velde. They have what former RadioShack physiologist Allen Lim calls “old man diesel power.”

Once you get them up to speed, they can run that motor at high speed for three weeks solid. The hitch is just getting them through the race in one piece.

Here’s hoping Mr. Vande Velde gets a chance to show us his true talents in 2012.

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