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Stijn Devolder's Tour diary
Stijn Devolder is a 28 year-old Belgian cyclist from the Quick Step team. Last year was a breakthrough year for Devolder as he wore the 'oro' for one day in the Vuelta a España, and captured the Belgian 'tricolore' in Ronse. He also found out that he wasn't only a man for the Spring Classics, but for the longer stage races as well. He won the Tour of Austria and finished third in the Tour de Suisse.
In 2008 he won the 'Ronde van Vlaanderen' wearing the tricolore while finishing solo in Meerbeke, a glorious and emotional moment for Devolder. In times of specialising, he is one of very few riders who can excel in Paris-Roubaix and a Grand Tour. Despite being a dark horse for many, he is hoping for a top 10 finish this year.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Here we are in Brest, just before the Tour kicks off. It's going to be my first ever Tour de France. Up until now, I'm not noticing too many differences if I compare it to any other bike race, really. It doesn't feel different. To me, it compares best with the Spring Classics; there is a very important race coming up, like the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix.
I've been working extremely hard for this one, for more than two months now. I hope to see the fruit of that, especially when the roads go uphill. I told the media this afternoon that I'm dreaming of yellow in Paris, but not this year. A top-10 result is more realistic, and that would be fantastic.
During my preparation I tried to follow the example of Lance Armstrong. I always looked up to him, and that feeling has only grown since I rode in the same team. We aren't in touch, but I do know he's still following the races. Actually, he was one of the first people who texted Dirk Demol to congratulate us when I won the Tour of Flanders in April.
I'm known for my attacking racing style, and I realise that I need to ride differently over here than how I did in Switzerland, where I tested my legs. I need to stay with the strongest guys, and maybe take time on the real good climbers in the time trials. I'm not planning to do something before the time trial on Tuesday.
My preparation for the Tour de France was pretty much perfect. There are always moments when things go a bit worse. Those moments always come unexpectedly, like in the time trial at the Tour de Suisse. I had a really bad day and I didn't expect it at all, although I assume bad moments are never expected, are they?
The week ahead of the Tour of Flanders I had a bad day as well, but one week later I stood on top of the podium in Meerbeke. If everything would go perfectly, it would be boring, I guess!
Too bad Boonen is not here. There's no extra pressure on me because he's not here, but it's good to have him around. He has the experience to take the right decisions in the race and surely I'll miss him.
You might be interested to know who my favourites for the win are. Personally I think Valverde and Cunego have a good chance.
Thanks for reading,