By Brecht Decaluwé in Vitré
Gert Steegmans is turning out to be the perfect lead-out man for Robbie McEwen these days. After their stage win in Saint-Quentin, the Davitamon-Lotto crew won another bunch sprint in Vitré today. Steegmans is one of the hottest prospects of Belgian cycling together with the likes of Tom Boonen, Jurgen Vandenbroeck, Stijn Devolder and Philippe Gilbert.
It wasn't planned that he would do the lead out for McEwen, but due to the crash of Rodriguez, they needed to change plans. Steegmans needed to move up a place in the team ranks, leading out Robbie McEwen in the sprint: "He trusts that I can do it, and it's working out," Steegmans told Cyclingnews.
"Everybody knows that they need to be in front in the sprint and they probably hope that he [McEwen] has sore legs or something. We really try to show up as late as possible and it's proved successful twice now. Yesterday, I misinterpreted the signals, but now it's alright!"
The 25 year-old Belgian is really coming into the spotlight now, receiving lots of positive critique from the experts. And as Steegmans is still waiting for a prolongation of his contract, he market value is mounting with each stage.
"I don't think so," he refuted, "but the people in the cycling world know what my value is. It would be sad if they didn't know it by now."
Steegmans was suffering during the first stages, but has transformed himself into a key member of the Davitamon-Lotto team. "The second and third day I was suffering from heat, but now it's going much better," he said.
Yesterday, something went wrong in the lead out: "Normally I wait until Robbie shouts 'Go!'; I thought I missed his 'Go' signal, and as there isn't much time to take decisions, I started at 500 metres. But in the end, it's really nice to acknowledge that there some magic between the two of us.
"We came here aiming for a good GC for Evans, the green [jersey] and a stage for Robbie - and all the rest is being considered as a nice bonus!" concluded Steegmans.