After an aggressive Tour de France showing that yielded a stage victory and a spell in the yellow jersey, Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard) is looking to continue his purple patch through to the end of the season, where he hopes to shine at the world championships and Tour of Lombardy.
“I had a great Tour, which doesn’t change my qualities as a rider but which should serve as a turning point. But confirming is as hard, if not harder, than getting to the top,” Bakelants told La Dernière Heure.
Although Bakelants will not ride the Vuelta a España – and although Belgium is not yet guaranteed a full complement of nine riders in Florence – he expects to earn selection for the world championships.
“I’m going to race the Eneco Tour and the two Canadian classics. Then at the end of the season, I’m looking at the Tour of Lombardy,” Bakelants said. “But above all, I want to focus on the world championships in Florence. I hope that I’m selected. I think that I can legitimately say that I have the right to be there. I’m not doing the Vuelta, but believe me when I say I’ll be ready on the day.”
Bakelants’ contract expires at the end of the season, and he is a man in demand after his aggressive showing at the Tour. While reports from Belgium suggest that he is likely to continue in the same set-up and sign with the revamped Trek team for 2014, there is also firm interest from Lotto Belisol.
In any case, Bakelants stressed that he is not looking for the statute of team leader, but simply the freedom to seek out his own opportunities when his form allows it. “On days when I feel good, I want to be free or protected but I can work for somebody else without any problems,” he said. “I’ll never be a Grand Tour rider, but I can do something in races like Paris-Nice.”