Coming into the 99th Tour de France the Lotto-Belisol team made it clear they came to Liège with one major goal and that was getting Jurgen Van den Broeck on the podium in Paris. Sprinter André Greipel and climber Jelle Vanendert can go for stage wins if those plans don't interfere with the overall goal.
Thanks to no less than seven bunch sprint victories in the last five weeks the team enters the Tour de France with a good morale. "The team-spirit is good," team manager Marc Sergeant said. "These guys are going through a fire for each other. With Jurgen we have one true leader for the general classification but if there's the opportunity to win a stage then we'll go for it. With Jelle we have a man for the stage on Sunday [the uphill finish in Seraing]. He showed in the Amstel Gold Race that he can do it. Normally you win if you beat Peter Sagan, if it wasn't for Enrico Gasparotto. On Monday it's a stage that's destined to finish in a bunch sprint. We have a good team and a good lead-out to support André Greipel."
Sergeant believes that Jurgen Van den Broeck has what it takes to aim high in the general classification. The podium seems the highest possible result but Sergeant didn't hide that he hoped for even more. "You never know what happens with Wiggins or Evans. Three weeks of racing is really long. They both can have a weak moment. Look at what happened with the untouchable Lance Armstrong on the Joux-Plane," Sergeant said. In order to be the one that can profit from any problems by Wiggins or Evans, the Belgian rider has to make sure he sits in a good position overall himself. That means he'll have to deal well with the more than 100 time trial kilometres.
"As soon as Jurgen learned about the course and the time trials he focused on that discipline. He had to learn to love that bike. We gave him a new bike and a new position. Already after three months we gambled on taking him into competition in a 25km long time trial in the Algarve. It turned out well as he lost only half a minute on Wiggins. In the Dauphiné he was really good. He lost only half a minute in 53km on Evans while Wiggins was hors category." In that time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Wiggins won the time trial by a margin of 1:43 on Evans (8th) and 2:12 on Van den Broeck (11th).
It's remarkable to see how Jurgen Van den Broeck tries to improve whatever aspect in the sport in order to perform better. While a man like Andy Schleck has the reputation of living on talent rather than training efforts then Van den Broeck seems to be the opposite. "Probably that's due to his time on the team of Lance Armstrong. Back then he learned that if you want something then you have to do everything for it and take nothing for granted. It's easy to say it but you need the mental strength to actually do it."