Vuelta a España: Van den Broeck among several to lose time on first major climb
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Vuelta a España: Van den Broeck among several to lose time on first major climb

by Kyle Moore at 10:41 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Cobo, Gadret, Menchov, De Gendt, Jeannesson all down significant chunks

Jurgen Van den BroeckJurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) saw his GC hopes at the Vuelta a España take a hit after Monday’s stage three, as the Belgian suffered on the way up the Alto de Arrate. He came in to Eibar with a small group in 70th position, 3’23” behind stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). The top 14 on the stage were all within six seconds of Valverde, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Chris Froome (Sky Procycling), putting Van den Broeck on the back foot after just three stages.

Along with the Lotto-Belisol rider, several others lost handfuls of time, with some who could have contended already out of the running completely.

The Vuelta’s defending champion Juan Jose Cobo (Movistar) was dropped after the first of Contador’s many accelerations and would not see the lead group again, eventually finishing 50 seconds in arrears, in 22nd place.

AG2R La Mondiale’s John Gadret yo-yoed early on the six-kilometre Arrate climb and would end up losing 1’18”. Denis Menchov (Katusha) was 49th, 1’52” back, and Giro d’Italia podium finisher Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) lost over two minutes as well.

And after finishing 14th in the Tour de France in 2011, but missing this year due to injury, Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ-BigMat) continues to struggle. The Frenchman admitted in an interview on the team website that he was feeling poorly in the Wallonie and Burgos races, and did not enter the Vuelta with much confidence. Jeannesson lost 14 minutes on stage four, and now sits 189th out of 197 in the general classification.

Though Van den Broeck suffered one of the biggest time losses of the favourites on stage three, his Lotto-Belisol handlers believe he is still in contention for a high ranking in Madrid. After Van den Broeck fought throughout July to earn a fourth spot in the Tour de France, he has been sluggish in the Vuelta, which Lotto-Belisol director Herman Frison said is completely typical.

“It’s a bit normal after the Tour,” Frison told Sporza about his rider’s three and a half minute time loss on stage three. “Are we disappointed? Absolutely not. We knew this could happen. Jurgen put in 120-percent effort to get up there in the Tour. Then it’s a bit normal for you after the Tour to release a little and enjoy your performance.”

Frison hoped that the Vuelta’s first hilly stage would not expose this, though it turned out it would. Contador and Valverde applied constant pressure up front, putting anyone with dull legs into immediate trouble.

“You hope that the first mountain stage stays calm, because Jurgen would be better every day,” Frison added. “But that was clearly not the case, because the four big favourites opened up the game.

“Jurgen didn’t feel good enough, not even enough to go with the second group. Hopefully [on Tuesday] he will be a little better. He is not really disappointed, because there are still many opportunities for stage wins. Maybe we will go on the offensive with [Gianni] Meersman or [Bart] de Clercq. Which stages we will choose is hard to say. We look at it day-by-day with eight uphill finishes.”

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