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Stijn Devolder's Tour diary

Stijn Devolder will look for a top 10 this year
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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.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nervous beginning

Hi all!

Things started going on Saturday and for a lot of riders it started off pretty hectic by showing up too late for the sign on! Luckily, I wasn't among them. Sometimes it isn't easy to get there in time, because you start to hand out autographs and you get into a chat with someone. I usually make sure that I am signed on half an hour before the peloton starts moving.

When we were actually racing it ended up being a very nervous first stage. It was nervous because the leader's jersey was at stake. The climb in Plumelec was a first test for most, and for me it went ok, really. I finished in the peloton, but since there was a gap behind my team-mate Carrara I lost six more seconds than the first dozen of riders.

On Sunday it was a hectic stage, but luckily I could avoid all the crashes and finish safely within the main field. It was very nervous, but the team managed to keep me up front until the finale, and then they rode for Gert [Steegmans]. In the final kilometres there was another crash and later I heard Gert was inflicted.

In the first stages the main thing is to stay up front, but that's the same for everybody, of course. It's dangerous with all those people along the road and the wind doesn't make it easier, either.

People usually ask me what the difference is between the Tour de France and the other races. I'm used to race in the Spring Classics, so I'm used to packed roads and it's just the same over here. Although there's a little more of everything: there are more people and there's more nervousness.

I hope to stay out of the crashes on Monday, and then I hope to pull of a good performance on Tuesday in the time trial.

Thanks for reading