Christian Vande Velde got a rare opportunity to race in his hometown of Chicago as the Tour of Elk Grove upgraded to a UCI 2.1 level stage race.
“It’s really great for people who haven’t seen me in a long time — it’s nice for them to see me actually in a race and not just on TV.”
The opening stage was a short but technical time trial and lots of family and friends were on hand to cheer him on to a fifth place. John Vande Velde, Christian’s father who was a talented racer himself, was in the role of grandpa instead of coach.
“He hasn’t given me any pointers, it’s more my grandma giving me pointers here! She was saying, “It’s going to rain really bad tomorrow, be careful!”
Indeed the second stage was postponed 90 minutes due to a severe thunderstorm rolling through; a typical Chicago summer occurrence.
Vande Velde will continue on to the Tour of Utah and then the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. But coming from the thick, humid, sea-level air of Chicago will take some adjusting.
“It’s always tough, I suffered a lot in Utah but that was good prep going into Colorado. I really surprised myself in Colorado last year so hoping to do that again.”
More photos from the Tour of Elk Grove