Tour de France: Jurgen Van Den Broeck’s brush with power as French president steps in
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tour de France: Jurgen Van Den Broeck’s brush with power as French president steps in

by Ben Atkins at 4:37 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Belgian rubs shoulders with Nicolas Sarkozy on his way to his nation's best Tour finish in 24 years

jurgen van den broeckJurgen Van Den Broeck (OmegaPharma-Lotto) is poised to become Belgium’s first rider to finish in the top-five of the Tour de France since Claude Criquielion in 1986. The result will likely heap the pressure of a nation, eternally searching for the next Eddy Merckx, on his 27-year-old shoulders and propel him to the sort of stardom enjoyed by classics riders like Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert; nevertheless, he would not have been expecting to rub shoulders with the likes of the President of France just yet.

The Belgian crossed the line 1’48” behind stage winner Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), but after he crossed the line he found his path blocked by the diminutive figure of Nicolas Sarkozy, who’d spent the stage in the race director’s car.

“If he stands in the way I’ll run him over,” he told Sporza about his collision with "Sarko". “If he comes to the race he should step aside for the riders.”

Apart from his brush with power, the Belgian had a good day, staying with his main rivals until the very end of the stage until the group split up. He is now 5’27” behind race leader Alberto Contador, and more importantly 1’14” ahead of sixth-placed Robert Gesink. Unless he really messes up in Saturday’s time trial, and can stay upright for the rest of the race, he should carry his fifth place to Paris.

“For now I’m happy, but I’ll be really happy when I get to Paris and finish fifth,” he said. “I was not really good today, a bit less than previous days. Things are still looking good, but the time trial is yet to be ridden; whether we succeed in holding fifth place, we’ll see on Saturday night.”

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