Slow and steady for Van Den Broeck
By Anthony Tan in Lausanne
Suffering from diarrhoea during the third stage of the Tour de Romandie, early race leader Paolo Savoldelli decided it was best to call it quits and not start yesterday's tough mountain stage in Sion.
Asked if the problems began the night before, Discovery Channel assistant team manager Lorenzo Lapage told Cyclingnews that Savoldelli only started feeling queezy during the stage. "No, they started in the race; I think he ate something wrong, but mentally speaking, after the race he was okay and he felt better," said Lapage.
"He went three or four times to the toilet, he slept at the hotel that night and went home in the morning. Now, he says the problems are over, so I'm pretty sure it was something he ate. When you have a stage like that and you have problems with your stomach, you lose so much energy, so it was better to send him home to recover, so that he's ready for the Giro."
But a team without a leader is not really a team at all, and Lapage admits it's been difficult to stay motivated since Savoldelli's departure. "Of course, when you lose your leader like that, it's not easy to find the motivation again. But we have a young rider, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, who again showed he's very good, so we're going to try and put him in a good position, and let's hope he can do a top 20 overall."
Since turning professional three years ago, the 23 year-old Belgian has been slowly getting better, and rode a solid support role in the Spring Classics. This week, Van Den Broeck has performed consistently throughout the race, finishing the fourth stage in 20th place which saw him 22nd overall going into the final time trial in Lausanne, 5'25 behind race leader Alberto Contador. He's a strong rider, so today's parcours should aid his chances of that top 20 finish.
"That's what we told him when he became a professional," said Lapage about Van Den Broeck's steady progress. "A lot of people criticised us; he was too young, they said. We gave him a lot of time, and he's a rider who needs a lot of time. But we've seen every year he's made progress, and in the Classics this year, he was very, very strong - so if we give him more time, he will become a very good rider."
Quizzed on when Discovery Channel will decide on their final nine they take to the Giro, Lapage said the team already know: "I think we'll announce that after [the race], but we already have a plan [of who we will take], so we know who's going, and if no-one gets sick, we already know in our heads who we want.
"Obviously Paolo for sure, Pavel Padrnos, Benoit Joachim - those guys for sure are going to the Giro. With Paolo, we saw in the first stages he is ready like last year," he said, dispelling the possibility that Savoldelli's recent sickness will affect his ability to defend the title he won last year.