Devolder says he plans to aim for a strong Tour de France
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Devolder says he plans to aim for a strong Tour de France

by Shane Stokes at 8:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Belgian sets July target to rebuild after disappointing Flanders and Roubaix

Stijn DevolderIt’s been a long time since he’s been a factor in a Grand Tour, but Stijn Devolder has said that he wants to try to achieve a good result in the Tour de France after another disappointing Classics campaign.

The Belgian won back to back Flanders titles in 2008 and 2009, but since then hasn’t been a factor in the one day races in April. His performances have been sporadic and he has been out of form for much of those seasons.

Devolder appeared to be on the right track again this year, riding solidly in the races leading up to the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and taking eighth overall in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. However he crashed in the Classic and also fell in Paris-Roubaix.

As a result he has said that he will now aim to do something in July. “I’ve trained for months now, but there’s zero result,” he told Het Belang van Limburg. “I always have bad luck in the decisive moments. I could never show that I had good legs…it’s been very frustrating.

The 32 year old reportedly wanted to line out in yesterday’s Brabantse Pijl but didn’t get a green light from his Vacansoleil DCM team.

As result, he said he was taking a break and wanted to wipe the slate clean. “I want to clear my head. The past period has been exhausting. It’s been a while ago [2009] since I have appeared at the start of the Tour.”

It’s perhaps hard to consider it now but earlier in his career, there was a time when Devolder was considered a potential Grand Tour winner. While with the Discovery Channel team, he finished a solid 24th overall in the 2005 Vuelta a Espana and then returned the following season to take a strong eleventh. He was 26 at the time and some people, Lance Armstrong included, tipped him as a likely Tour de France contender.

That didn’t happen, with his Grand Tour showings petering out. He did however ride well at times in shorter stage races. In 2007 he was third overall in the Tour de Suisse and also won the Österreich-Rundfahrt. He also won the 2008 and 2010 Tours of Belgium plus the 2008 Volta ao Algarve.

One issue for Devolder has been remaining focused. He has tended to hit form rarely during the season; when he does, he is capable of winning, but there are many more races where he does little of any merit.

There’s a chance that he realizes that time is running out, though, and that he must knuckle down if he is to make the most of the remaining years of his career. The Tour is one place where he wants to do more.

“I don't have the feeling that I'm done with that race,” he said. “I want to find out where my limits are as a general classification rider. "

He has ridden the race twice, abandoning in 2008 and finishing 83rd in 2009. He didn’t ride last year, saying that he didn’t have good enough form.

Devolder said that the death of his friend Wouter Weylandt had hit him hard and that he found it difficult to stay focused.

The Vuelta a Espana was pinpointed by him as a goal, but he finished back in 154th place.

Because of that, some will take his declaration of intent about the Tour with a pinch of salt. It’s now up to the Belgian to show that he can still achieve big things over three weeks.


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