Confidence boost for Belgian ahead of the Tour de France
Having started the eighth and final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné in fifth place, Jurgen Van den Broeck's (Lotto-Belisol) final day performance saw him finish the Tour de France warm up race in third place overall. The Belgian had started the day with the intention of maintaining his GC position but his strong ride to fifth place elevated him two overall places to his first stage-race podium finish this year.
During the stage Van den Broeck and teammate Tony Gallopin made their way into the decisive 23-man breakaway which also included stage winner Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) and overall winner Andrew Talansky (Garmin- Sharp). Behind them in the peloton on the penultimate climb of the day, race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) attacked and dropped Chris Froome (Team Sky) but couldn;t bridge across to the leaders
Ahead of Contador on the road remained just eight riders of the breakaway with one final 5.9km climb of the day to Courchevel.
Nieve attacked from the group to solo to the win while Talansky and Van den Broeck finished fourth and fifth to seal the overall win and a podium place.
"Before the start of the Dauphiné I had hoped I could show I was competitive," Van den Broeck said. "That I'm on the podium is a marvellous result. I was fifth this morning. The goal was first of all to maintain that place and gain one place if possible. The race was hectic today and I was in the perfect position when the breakaway was formed. I decided to jump along.
"I had lots of support of Tony Gallopin. For Talansky, who had his teammate Hesjedal with him, it was also important to take as much time as possible, so between us there was a good cooperation. For me the GC was the priority, at the end I could look at the stage win. I mainly wanted to fight for a podium place."
Van den Broeck's best performance at a stage race this year before the Dauphiné was 16th at the Tour of Oman in February but he showed that he is on track for a good performance at the Tour de France in July.
The 31-year-old has twice finished fourth overall at the Tour and received a timely confidence boost by his performance at the Dauphiné.
"This Dauphiné has been very successful. During my training period before this race I knew I was good, but that needed to be confirmed in competition. I immediately got that confirmation in the first two days. The team worked really well here and there was a pleasant atmosphere. Everyone knew what to do, also today this was proven. It was nice to battle in front here in the Dauphiné and to feel I'm on the level I need to be.
"Now I'm going on a training camp to the Sierra Nevada. Of course the Belgian Championship is planned at the end of the month and then the team heads off to the Tour. This Dauphiné has set my mind to rest in the run-up to that Tour de France."
Lotto-Belisol's sports director Herman Frison said that from the opening time trial in Lyon it was clear that Van den Broeck was going to challenge for the overall and his result is reward for the hard work and training he puts in.
"In the opening time trial we immediately noticed that Jurgen Van den Broeck was good. He set a strong time, the place was less important. In the first mountain stage, on Monday, he proved to be able to follow the best. That was a relief; he was doing really well. It was a great stage today… [and] ... this podium place was above the expectations."
"After all the hard work of Van den Broeck to come back after his crash in the Tour of last year this result is overwhelming. It gives him and the whole team confidence for the Tour.
While Frison praised the podium place of Van den Broeck, it was also a successful team effort across the eight days of racing.
"The entire team rode well here in the Dauphiné. Almost every day the team was represented in the break and we can be satisfied about the performance of the whole team."
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