Gent Wevelgem: Roelandts hit by car highlights hard luck day for Lotto-Belisol
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Gent Wevelgem: Roelandts hit by car highlights hard luck day for Lotto-Belisol

by Kyle Moore at 4:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 
Debusschere flats out of winning breakaway group, Greipel misses out on bunch sprint for victory

Jurgen RoelandtsThough he had hopped back on his bike after the incident, Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) was eventually forced to abandon Gent Wevelgem after being hit by a car from the race organization. Details about the exact nature of the accident remain sketchy, but Lotto-Belisol manager Marc Sergeant said that Roelandts was suffering from headaches and grogginess after remounting, so the Belgian decided that it would be best to stop.

The incident with Roelandts, who has been plagued by bad luck for several seasons, highlighted a day full of bad luck for Lotto-Belisol. Jens Debusschere was well placed in the powerful breakaway that would eventually contest the win, until he suffered an ill-timed rear flat and was forced back to the peloton. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) went on to take the victory, and Debusschere finished 3 minutes back in 62nd, alongside team-mate Frederik Willems.

Sprinter André Greipel was the team’s best placer, and in fact won the bunch sprint to the line. But the ten-man group ahead meant that Greipel could only manage 11th.

In fact, Roelandts too had suffered a flat tire just prior to being hit by the car belonging to the race organization. The live race video feed captured quickly the sight of Roelandts stopping on the right side of the road, with Willems next to him ready to give up his wheel for one of his captains. It was apparently right after this wheel change that Roelandts was struck.

Sergeant rued his squad’s misfortune after the race.

“We will certainly not hide behind bad luck, but today was certainly not easy,” Sergeant stated. “Jurgen Roelandts had a flat tire at a bad time, and when he was exchanging wheels with Frederik Willems, he was hit on the head by a car from the race organization. Therefore, he was suffering from headaches and decided to abandon.”

The 23-year-old Debusschere was in a good position given the race’s final result, but a flat rear tire spelled doom for his race as well.

“Sagan is Sagan, so I will not say that I had him beaten, but the others were certainly not faster than me on paper,” Debusschere lamented afterward, thinking of what might have been. “Punctures could have cost me a beautiful place of honor in a WorldTour race. It was the ideal situation – I sat in the front and there were four men from the team in the peloton. I could have sat in and not wasted any energy unnecessarily. I felt that I would have been able to race the finale.

“Obviously this gives me confidence looking ahead to the Ronde,” Debusschere admitted. “I want to work for the team and be satisfied with my contribution. I won’t ride the Three Days of De Panne. I’ll prepare myself in peace for next Sunday.”

Sergeant had hoped for better luck for Debusschere and his squad, and offered praise for Greipel and his race as well.

“Jens has fast legs, so that could have been a good result,” Sergeant added. “In Dwars door Vlaanderen we were not good, and in the E3 Roelandts was unlucky in a crucial phase. Fate is not favorable to us lately.

“Greipel ultimately came in 11th today, proving that he certainly was not bad. Jens had his puncture, but then he gave support in the peloton’s pursuit, which approached as close as 30 seconds. But we didn’t get much help, which made it virtually impossible. It’s a shame how today went.”

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