"I urgently need to learn to control myself," Discovery Channel's Stijn Devolder told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I don't like anything more than to race according to my own temperament. It's just that that isn't as profitable."
His 2005 season is the proof of that: he raced aggressively in Qatar, the Ruta del Sol, Het Volk, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Tirreno-Adriatico and the E3 Prijs, with a stage win in the Three Days of De Panne the best result. "But by then I had already had my best days. In the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, my favourite races, I was as dead as mutton. Painful."
In agreement with Demol and Bruyneel, Devolder tried a different approach, the base of which was laid at the Vuelta. "Just before the hardest mountain stages, I had him racing with the brakes on," said Demol. "He [Devolder] was angry. 'Come on Dirk, not going all out in a time-trial? You can't be serious!' he said. 'I am' I said. Because on Cerler I want to see what you're really worth. He became a big revelation."
"I have to avoid going into the red too much," admits Devolder, "make the difference between the important and trivial stuff. And expend my energy better during the race, attack at the right moment, that's what I'm keeping in mind. With only one goal: to win more often in the period between Dwars door Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. For now, I'm below Hincapie in the Classics, in a free role."
At yesterday's E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, Devolder saw Boonen as the man to beat: "At the moment, he's wiping everything and everybody off the map. A combination of power and cleverness will be needed to beat him. But hey, he won't win every race, will he?"