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Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) signs on for stage 1.
Belgian coy on King of the Mountains challenge
Jelle Vanendert is hopeful that he will have the freedom to chase another stage win at the 2012 Tour de France, a race he will ride in the service of Jurgen Van Den Broeck as part of the new Lotto-Ridley set-up.
Vanendert showed his mettle in the mountains last July when he bounded to victory atop Plateau de Beille. That win came after his leader Van Den Broeck had been forced out of the race in a crash at the end of week one, and Vanendert is mindful of his place in the team’s climbing hierarchy.
“I’ll be at the Tour with the goal of winning another stage and of helping VDB get a good placing overall,” Vanendert told dhnet.be.
The 2012 Tour gets underway on Belgian roads in Liège, and Vanendert is excited about the opportunities for puncheurs in the race’s opening week, as the peloton heads southwards into the Vosges and Jura.
“There are lots of opportunities for me, right from the first week at Seraing or Boulogne, and then later on in Vosges and the Jura,” he explained. “They’re stages that are set up like Walloon classics, and I love those races.”
Although next year’s Grand Boucle is replete with time trialling miles, Vanendert is intrigued by the presence of so many new climbs on the route and he pointed out that some prior knowledge of the route could reap rich dividends.
“I really like this 2012 Tour, even if time trialling isn’t my forte and 100 kilometres is a lot,” he said. “Very few people know the majority of the climbs we’ll do next year, even in the Alps and Pyrenees. That’s going to oblige us to do a lot of reconnaissance and spend a lot some time in France.”
20th overall in 2011, Vanendert held the king of the mountains jersey for five stages before relinquishing the polka dots to Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The 26-year-old admitted that he may have the competition in mind from the outset next year.
“It’s much too early to talk about the polka dot jersey, but it might become an objective.”