Christian Vande Velde and I first met at the 1997 Tour de L'Avenir, I was 20 and in the yellow jersey, he was 21 and very recently off the plane from the World Track Champs in Perth, Australia. We had no idea what lay ahead for us, I was team mates with Lance Armstrong in 1997, Christian would become his loyal team mate the next year at US Postal and be part of the 1999 cancer comeback TdF. We both got to experience way more than we ever asked for.
It was Christian who convinced me to visit Girona in 2006, my wife and I stayed at his house and we instantly knew that Catalunya would be our new home. It was me that convinced Christian to join Slipstream, a start-up wildcard team, it wasn't an easy persuasion because at the time Christian was on the best team in the world, CSC. Eventually he did crack, thankfully, and the next few years saw us live the best years of our racing careers.
Christian now works for NBC, in a similar but different role to mine at ITV, he knows a bike race does VDV (his nickname). He's also a friend who happens to have been a professional cyclist during the same epoch, we bridge old and new, and got caught up in all the shit in between. Just as I have fought for rider's rights Christian has been the President of the North American pro cyclist's union. We've both lived a love hate relationship with cycling, and it's been a joy to share it with him, because we talk about it often, and both of us will always love it more than we could ever hate it.
In absence of what would have been the Ardennes week of racing (Amstel/Fleche/Liege), we thought we'd relive it, and talk about the what and why of the oldest monument of them all, Liege Bastogne Liege aka La Doyenne.
Find Christian here:
Whilst regaling stories from the Spring classics, two emotions are brought up more than any other, time and time again: love and hate. You don't have to have to have been in the mix of a World Tour race to feel it too: it's a shared feeling - one of those things that cyclists just 'get'. Our latest collection puts those feelings on show for all to recognise.