July 4 2009, 4:04 PM
The first stage of the 2009 Tour de France is history, and on this July 4 holiday, Boulder-based squad Garmin-Slipstream had a strong showing. However, it was Bradley Wiggins, a Brit, who had the team's most noteworthy finish, placing third--19 seconds behind stage winner Fabian Cancellara in the 9.5-mile individual time trial. Team leader Christian Vande Velde, who less than two months ago broke five vertebrae, one rib, and fractured his pelvis, finished an impressive 17th--57 seconds off the winning time. Vande Velde's result not only proves that he's regained his racing form; it also bodes well for his overall hopes. Vande Velde is the rare rider who gets stronger in the later stages of three-week races like the Tour. Of his performance, Vande Velde wrote on his Twitter page that he was "more than happy with today." Tomorrow's stage two is a "flat," 116-mile jaunt from Monaco to Brignoles. Look for Garmin's young sprint sensation, Tyler Farrar, to be in the mix at the finish.