Stijn Devolder suffers through hunger knock at Paris-Roubaix
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stijn Devolder suffers through hunger knock at Paris-Roubaix

by Jered Gruber at 6:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Vacansoleil rider admits frustration over lost opportunities this spring

After a promising start to the season in the early stage races, there was hope that Stijn Devolder could return to his spot as one of the world's best cobbled specialists. It's not like that was a far off dream either - Devolder is, after all, a two-time winner of the Tour of Flanders, and no matter what team tactics played into those victory - he won back to back editions of one of the most difficult races to win - something not even Fabian Cancellara can lay claim to.

Unfortunately, the cobbled classics did not go well for the native of Deerlijk. Devolder finished 55th at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and 105th in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.

The reason? A major case of the dreaded bonk.

"I had fallen in the Arenberg Forest, but I managed to get back," said the 31 year old rider to Het Nieuwsblad. "The whole day, I spent close to the front, but I forgot to eat and drink. Suddenly, I was completely empty. I couldn't go any more than 20 km/h. I bonked."

As they say in some countries, the man with the hammer had paid a visit to Devolder. Following such a visit, there isn't much to be done except, a) drop out, or b) continue on as best one can. Like Kurt Asle Arvesen's now famous 20 kilometres sans saddle, it's hard to imagine finishing Roubaix after bonking. Devolder describes the event as nothing less than terrible.

"After that, I rode by feel to the velodrome. It was seriously dark before my eyes. I only saw the back wheel of the rider in front of me."

Looking back at the two critical monuments, the reigning Belgian champion admits frustrating and anger.

"I was angry at myself. If you dream of victory in the two best races and do not contend, there's nothing to say. The most beautiful Classics are again done for the year."

The spring campaign isn't done quite yet for Devolder though. The aggressive rider will take part in today's Brabantse Pijl, as well as the upcoming Ardennes Classics. He's one of the rare breed of riders that is a viable threat in all of the Classics he enters.

After next weekend's spring finale in Liege, the question will arise - what next for Devolder? The Vacansoleil leader hopes to take part in the upcoming Tour de France, but the path to the Grand Boucle is currently a murky one, even moreso considering his recent frustrations.

"After Liege-Bastogne-Liege, I will think about the path forward for the rest of the year. As outgoing Belgian champion and winner of the Tour of Belgium, I will take the start there. I also want to race the Tour, but the path to there? I don't know yet."


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