Stijn Devolder looks forward after disappointing spring campaign
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stijn Devolder looks forward after disappointing spring campaign

by Ben Atkins at 8:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 
Belgian champion scored a disastrous blank in the classics

stijn devolderSpring was a very disappointing season for Vacansoleil’DCM’s Stijn Devolder. For a Belgian champion, especially one who has won two consecutive editions of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Classics are probably the most important races of the year. According to Sporza though, Devolder went into the races with confidence, only to fail to register a single decent placing.

Stijn is having to think again.

"I assumed that the preparation was perfect and that the results would follow,” the Belgian champion told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Naturally I am now wondering why that didn't happen."

The one different thing he did in his preparation this year was to spend some time at altitude; something he’s done before, but at a different time of the year.

"Last year I won the Belgian championships after such a period and so it seemed like a good idea to me," he explained.

Having spent a good winter, and buoyed with the confidence of signing for Vacansoleil-DCM after three seasons at Quick Step, Devolder expected to do well in the big Classics; for some reason though, this didn’t happen.

"I felt good throughout the spring,” he said, “rode well in Dwars door Vlaanderen, and when I was just a day back from that altitude session. I thought it would go better than ever, but the opposite was true."

Sadly for Devolder though, his solid ride in Dwars door Vlaanderen was followed by an anonymous 50th in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and 55th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, a race he won in 2008 and 2009. 90th place in the Scheldeprijs was followed by a disastrous 105th in Paris-Roubaix, where he made the error of failing to eat and drink, and suffered from hunger knock.

The Ardennes Classics went no better, and he failed to finish last week’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“I sacrificed a lot and got no reward,” he said of the whole period. He will now have a blood test to see “whether I was overtrained, for example.

“Now I have to rebuild and set things right. I always come back; I’ve already proved that. I’m at an age where I know what I can do.”

One of the reasons for Devolder’s leaving Quick Step was criticism from team manager Patrick Lefevere that he would only fully commit to racing during the spring. This is something that a rider can get away with when they win the Ronde, but when the spring goes wrong he needs to have a plan B; this is something Devolder must do now.

He will start next month’s Ronde van België as the defending champion, and will hope to hang on to his driekleur jersey at the Belgian championships in June. Luckily for Devolder, his new team has yet to lose patience as Lefevere previously did.

"The confidence of Vacansoleil is intact. I am well taken care of and nobody is difficult,” he said. “They know I live for my job and I know what I’m doing."

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