Devolder’s place in Tour de France uncertain, Vacansoleil not satisfied with performances
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Sunday, June 03, 2012

Devolder’s place in Tour de France uncertain, Vacansoleil not satisfied with performances

by Shane Stokes at 8:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Critérium du Dauphiné
 
‘Show me that you still exist…but little or nothing changes’

Stijn DevolderStijn Devolder said after a frustrating Classics campaign that he wanted to show what he could do in the Tour de France but his Vacansoleil DCM team isn’t convinced by the Belgian rider.

Devolder lines out in the Critérium du Dauphiné today and is aware that his performances in that event will determine whether or not he gets the chance to compete in the bigger race. In fact, his showing may influence more than just his racing calendar, as it sounds like he could also be on his way out from the team unless he turns things around.

"Based on the results we can not possibly be satisfied,” his team manager Hilaire Van der Schueren told Het Nieuwsblad. “And for that reason he might not qualify for the Tour, unless the Dauphiné creates clarity.”

Devolder’s recent career is one which has been defined by unfulfilled promises. He started as a strong stage race rider, wining the Three Days of De Panne in 2005, netting eleventh in the Vuelta a Espana in 2006 and then taking the Österreich-Rundfahrt and netting third overall in the 2007 Tour de Suisse. Those performances prompted Lance Armstrong to tip him as a possible winner of the Tour de France.

However he moved to Quick Step and appeared to both gain muscle bulk and change focus. He took
back to back Flanders titles in 2008 and 2009, also winning the Tour of Belgium in the first of those years, then repeated in 2010 prior to taking the Belgian road race and time trial titles.

Since then, though, his palmares have been sparse. Although he picked up some decent results in 2010, Quick Step had been unhappy with him as his performances were sporadic. He moved to Vacansoleil in 2011 and didn’t deliver on expectations, prompting warnings that he had to improve.

With pressure on, the 32 year old initially appeared to be getting back on the right track again this year. He rode solidly in the races leading up to the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and took eighth overall in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. However he crashed in the Classic and also fell in Paris-Roubaix.

“I’ve trained for months now, but there’s zero result,” he told Het Belang van Limburg at the time. “I always have bad luck in the decisive moments. I could never show that I had good legs…it’s been very frustrating.” He said that he planned to refocus and perform in the Tour de France. “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.”

Van der Schueren also wants to find out what his limits are, but he’s losing patience. “Show me that you still exist - I made that clear to him countless times,” he said. “But little or nothing changes.

"His contract is ending and as with any agreement, the strengths and weaknesses are evaluated. But again, based on the results, we cannot possibly be satisfied.”

The team has selected all bar three of its riders for the Tour. Those who seem assured of their place are Johnny Hoogerland, Lieuwe Westra, Wouter Poels, Rob Ruijgh, Marco Marcato and Rafael Valls. The Dauphiné will go a long way towards determining who else should take part; Devolder has a chance, therefore, but needs to pull out at least one very big ride to show he still has it.

Otherwise, chances are he will sit out the Tour and could find himself on the market once again.
 

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