Belgian champion names Boonen and Gilbert as the riders to beat
Stijn Devolder has admitted that his form is "still not so great" but the current Belgian national champion is looking forward to the first Belgian race of the season with his new Vacansoleil-DCM team. His first goal of the weekend on the cobbles is to forget “the disaster of last year”.
On Thursday, the Belgian champion finished the Ruta del Sol in 32nd place and then headed to Belgium. His best result was fourth on the second stage. In 2010, Devolder had a week to train in the Belgium but after riding in Spain, he will only have one day to get used to the cold and the cobbles this year.
“That should be enough for an opening weekend which I am really looking forward to” he told Sportwereld.be.
In 2010, Devolder, then riding for Quick Step, finished only 131st at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, in the last group, over 13 minutes down. He was one of many who didn't finish Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the next day. Only 26 riders made it to the finish line on a day of atrocious weather. He is naturally not eager to repeat that experience, especially while wearing the national championship jersey.
“I hope that doesn't happen again. I think I'm ready, but I'm still not so great. My real races will come the first half of April,” he said.
However he said that racing this year has “taught me that I am a lot further along than this time last year, he said. “I just want to forget the disaster of last year.”
Last year Tom Boonen was his captain at Quick Step but is now a major rival. Devolder picked Boonen and Omega Pharma-Lotto's Philippe Gilbert as "the two men to beat. If Tom Boonen is on, I'll try to respond to a breakaway. If I can't, then there's Bjorn Leukemans, my teammate who is even better than me,” he said.
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