Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf


Stijn Devolder's Tour diary

Stijn Devolder will look for a top 10 this year
Photo ę: AFP
(Click for larger image)

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.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tough start with illness

Hi all,

We're getting ready for the stage towards Super Besse. Up until now I managed to hold my chances on a good general classification despite some problems, but more about that later. Currently I'm ranked 13th overall at 1'18" from current leader Stefan Schumacher.

Before the Tour I had hoped to be fighting for the yellow jersey in the time trial or at Super Besse, but that wasn't possible. The reason for this setback is that I've been a little sick during the first couple of days. For tactical reasons I couldn't write something about it, as you might understand.

I had some bad nights in which I also had a fever. My pulse was higher than it normally would be, so that's not so good. I probably used more energy than normally to ride like I did, so hopefully I didn't lose too much energy in this first week. Right now I'm okay again and ready for the important stages that are coming up.

Looking back on the past couple of days I think I should be content about how it went for me personally. During the third stage towards Nantes I was up front when the bunch split after a crash in a dangerous descent with about 30 kilometres to go. Our team heard about the crosswinds in the finale and we decided to start pulling after that descent. As a result guys like Denis Menchov and Ricardo Ricco were distanced and eventually finished 38 seconds down on our peloton.

Some people asked me why our team was pulling while we were out of contention for the stage victory. Well, we did it because we didn't want to lose time ourselves. There are always favourites who're taken by surprise - like Menchov on that day - and the best option was to start pulling before another team did it.

I was pulling along because that's what you need to do in the echelons. We were all on the side of the road, so it's better to ride along in the front than to be surprised. Riding into the crosswinds is one of my specialties. Those situations are pretty much common in the Belgian races that I grew up with.

The time trial on Tuesday wasn't good for me as I still felt that I wasn't riding at 100 percent of my possibilities. I hope to control the damages and that worked out okay. I was going really well, but sadly enough my chain went off during the TT. Then I probably put too much power on it and it got stuck between the ring and the seat tube. I had to change bike and because of all that I probably lost about 25 seconds.

At the finish I finished at 1'18" from Schumacher and 45" from Cadel Evans. I'm still a bit pissed off about the lost time, but considering that I only lost about 20" on a guy like Evans during a time trial, where I wasn't feeling 100 percent, it has boosted my morale a little. The Tour is still very long and you know those things can happen; you got to get over it I guess.

Yesterday was the first time I felt pretty much okay, and I had the impression my legs were turning around fine. It's going the right direction and that is important.

The stage to Super Besse should be pretty exciting, although I wouldn't consider it to be a real mountains stage. It's not super tough, but it's important though. My goal is to avoid any time losses although the time gaps will probably be relatively small compared to what will happen in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

I'm excited to be racing out there because those are the real classics where the Tour will be decided. I hope that I can enjoy the privilege to be battling along with the big guns out there.

Thanks for reading