Stijn Devolder has pulled out of the Worlds in Melbourne, Australia, due to a lack of form. According to Het Nieuwsblad, the Belgian called up the country's national coach Carlo Bomans on Sunday evening to inform him of his decision.
"I waited until after this week-end on purpose," Devolder said. "Paris-Brussels and the GP Fourmies taught me that I'm too tired and out of shape at the moment."
Moreover, the Belgian road and time trial champion has been a bit ill lately. "These last few days I felt a bit of a flu, and I thought that I was going to draw some energy back by resting more. But this hasn't been the case." The Belgian cycling federation has meanwhile confirmed this and replaced Devolder with Leif Hoste.
"Under these circumstances, I can't perform properly at the Worlds. It wouldn't be honest with regard to Gilbert to be travelling that far without being able to help him." Philippe Gilbert is the Belgian team's appointed leader for this year's Worlds.
The two-time Tour of Flanders winner blames a long season with few pauses at Quick Step for his fatigue. "It's a pity, but I'm clearly paying for a year in which I haven't really rested since February. My time trial in the Eneco Tour was already a sign on the wall. I'll work this season off, but there's no more margin for a condition peak."
National coach Bomans thus called Leif Hoste, currently racing at the Vuelta, to take the vacant place on the team surrounding Gilbert. "He briefed me on the situation, and I said 'yes'," said Hoste.
"I feel good and I'm ready to pull myself inside out for Gilbert in Australia."
This means that team leader Gilbert will be supported by Jan Bakelants, Mario Aerts, Greg Van Avermaet, Jurgen Roelandts and Leif Hoste in his bid to win the rainbow jersey.