By Brecht Decaluwé in Super Besse
Stijn Devolder, Belgium's hope for the Tour's general classification, gained confidence in his climbing abilities after finishing 20 seconds behind stage winner Riccardo Riccó. He was in the lead group coming into the final sprint, but was caught up behind the crash of yellow jersey wearer Stefan Schumacher.
"Today has been good for my confidence ahead of the stages in the Pyrenees," Devolder said. "I've been through a lot in recent times and mentally it has been a hard week to deal with that. Every time I feel something in my legs I start to think that I'm not good. Today was good for me as I noticed that I'm not doing too badly after all."
Had it not been for Schumacher's crash, Devolder might have contended for the stage win. The Belgian saw Schumacher going down right in front of him and had to set a foot on the ground. "It was preposterous! We were just watching each other and then there was that crash," Devolder said.
The Cyclingnewsdiarist is now in ninth overall, 1'21" behind leader Kim Kirchen. Despite a setback during the time trial in the Tour de Suisse and sickness during the first week of the Tour de France, it seems Devolder is on track to achieve his goal of a top-ten position in Paris.
"The legs are turning well, but the most important thing is that it's back good in the head. Mentally the last couple of weeks it started to become tough on me. It seems that I got rid from injuries and sickness. Now I need to get that form towards the top. I've got two days to rest a little in the peloton before looking forward to the Pyrenees," Devolder said.