Jelle Vanendert: “The general classification isn’t a priority for me”
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jelle Vanendert: “The general classification isn’t a priority for me”

by Ben Atkins at 11:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Belgian climber pledges support to Jurgen Van Den Broeck but is also eying a second stage victory

jelle vanendertLotto-Belisol’s Jelle Vanendert made a relatively late Tour de France debut at the age of 26 last year, and made an almost immediate impact in the mountains. On race’s first day in the Pyrénées, the Belgian was part of the stage-winning duo on the way to Luz-Ardiden, but found himself unable to go with the Olympic champion’s final acceleration to the finish. Two days later however, he attacked with seven kilometres to go on the climb to the Plateau de Beille, and managed to hold off Sánchez to take the stage victory.

“Last year I made my debut in the Tour, and everything I did was good, that was easy,” said the now 27-year-old two days before the start of the 2012 race. “Now I have some expectations,  perception is different. Few riders are able to win a stage. Not so long ago I calculated together with [teammate] Jurgen Van de Walle how many teams had won a stage in [last year’s] Tour. There aren’t many, because last year [Mark] Cavendish won five and we three.”

Lotto-Belisol - then Omega Pharma-Lotto - also took the first stage through then Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert - who has since departed for BMC Racing - and the tenth stage through sprinter André Greipel.

Vanendert finished the race in 19th place, despite losing minutes in a number of the flatter, early stages of the race. Despite this however, his overall classification ambitions will be cast aside for team leader Jurgen Van Den Broeck - who was one of the many victims of the 2011 race’s crash-strewn first week - but will not be abandoning his personal ambition entirely.

“The general classification isn’t a priority,” he confirmed. “During the Tour, a good classification is possible, but other targets are more important. Same thing with the mountain jersey; hunting for those points each day isn’t good, especially because since last year points on a hilly finish count double. A long escape is not enough, you also need to finish close. Of course, you’ll never know what’s going to happen.

“The other to target, assisting Jurgen and winning a stage, are possible to unite,” he added. “That’s my ambition. I want to be able to say afterwards that I did my work properly and that I battled for stage victories.”

With Van Den Broeck approaching the race on good form once more, after taking fifth overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné last month, the Belgian will be one of the big favourites to take a spot on the podium. Should he falter however, Vanendert will doubtless be ready to step into the breach.


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