For the first since 2008 when he recorded his first top-ten finish at a grand tour, Jurgen Van den Broeck will return to the Giro d'Italia with Lotto-Soudal. Van den Broeck made his grand tour debut at the 2007 Giro before going onto record several top-five finishes at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.
"Of course I'm really pleased the team selected me for the Giro," Van den Broeck said. "It was already obvious for a while now that I won't go to the Tour and that's fine. Taking part in the Giro is a return to the place where it all began for me as a GC rider.
"On Wednesday I'll head to Tenerife for two and a half weeks to optimally prepare myself. Then I'll try to be as good as possible in the Tour de Romandie and then the Giro starts. The past few weeks I took part in two WorldTour stage races as planned: Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya. In Tirreno I was eleventh. Top ten would have been nicer, but I was close. In Catalunya the focus of the team and me changed when Bart De Clercq took the leader's jersey."
Van den Broeck only has one professional victory to his name, stage one of the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné, but has has proven himself as grand tour GC rider.
"Of course I will do everything I can to do well," Van den Broeck added. "I urged the team to select me and now I want to live up to the expectations. The Tour de Romandie will be a reference to see if a top ten in Giro is a realistic goal. I now feel much better than last year at this time of the year, because I had a tough winter period then due to the combination between my rehabilitation after my crash in the Tour and working on the basic condition. It was a long and hard road and I underestimated the impact."
In his last four grand tour appearances, Van den Broeck's best result is 11th at the 2014 Tour but Lotto Soudal manager Marc Sergeant is confident the 32-year-old can post a top-ten finish.
"First he'll ride the Tour de Romandie. Two years ago he finished in top ten and we hope he can repeat that performance," Sergeant said. "If you want to be good in the Giro, you already have to be good in Romandie. That will also be the goal in the Giro. With a place in top ten I will be satisfied. That seems a correct goal to me for a rider who finished in top five of the Tour the past years and was thirteenth last year in difficult circumstances."
"Jurgen let us know he really wanted to go to the Giro, we spoke about that and we all can benefit from a good result. Also mentally this is important for Jurgen, I think. He can do what he loves most, ride a Grand Tour."