Tour of Flanders: Devolder says he can handle the pressure
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Tour of Flanders: Devolder says he can handle the pressure

by VeloNation Press at 3:22 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders

Last week Quick Step's Stijn Devolder was called out in the press by team manager Patrick Levfevere for his lack of results so far this season. The Belgian's best finish in 2010 has been his 40th place in this past weekend's E3 Prijs. Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad that his budget was 3 million euros less than it was five years ago, and without a third successive win in the Tour of Flanders this weekend, he would have a hard time justifying Devolder's place on the team.

"I wish him an autumn à la Philippe Gilbert," said Lefevere, if Devolder doesn't manage to pull off a win this Sunday.

The former Belgian champion started off his cobbled campaign with a poor showing in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but the following day was relieved with how his legs responded in an epic Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. "I am happy that the Omloop is just a bad memory," he told Het Nieuwsblad at the time. "I don't know what was going on. I knew soon that I wasn't going as well as [race winner Juan Antonio] Flecha (Team Sky), but I had expected that I could ride with the other top guys."

Although riding well, his hopes for a good result in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne came to an abrupt end when a stray trash lid blew onto the course causing him to crash. Despite the mishap, he was relieved with signs that his preparation was still on target for his attempt at another Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Devolder shrugged his shoulders when he was confronted with the criticism of his team manager, telling Het Nieuwsblad, "I am used to dealing with pressure. Saturday [in E3 Prijs] I was good.

"I know how I should prepare myself for the Ronde now. I think I'll be ready just in time," he said confidently.

"This whole smear campaign gives me a déjà vu. I worked for the team and Boonen took over on the Paterberg [in E3 Prijs]," he added. "Afterward, I rode well in the main group behind."

This time last year all eyes were focused on his teammate Tom Boonen, but Devolder ended up surprising everyone by riding away on the Eikenmolen, just as he did the previous year, for his second consecutive Flanders victory.

For this year's race Devolder won't have the Eikenmolen to rely on due to a change in the course, but he said he will improvise on the cobbled sections following the Eikenberg around the 200 kilometer mark.


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