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Jurgen Van Den Broeck and his new friends.
Belgian believes he still has room for improvement
Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was an impressive 5th-place finisher at the 2010 Tour de France and the Belgian climber has said that he is determined to consolidate his status with another strong showing in next year’s race.
“Most people thought I was setting the bar too high before the Tour when I said I was aiming for the top ten,” Van Den Broeck told Het Nieuwsblad. “But when you arrive in Paris in fifth place, you’re looked on differently.”
After finishing 7th at the 2008 Giro d’Italia and 15th at the 2009 Tour, Van Den Broeck has shown steady improvement in recent years, but he feels that 2010 marked a huge step forward in his career.
“This is only the beginning. I need to show character and continue to prove that it was no fluke,” he said. “I’m still only 27. There are those who are already at their maximum at that age and there are those who improve. I think I learn from my mistakes.”
With his fine Tour de France display and strong showing at the Criterium du Dauphiné, Van Den Broeck has carved out a niche for himself as one of the best climbers in the peloton, and he credits a more mature approach to his preparation for his progress. However, he readily admits that in the earlier phase of his career he often lacked such diligence in the winter months.
“In 2008 I didn't watch myself at all. I ate, drank and partied. I was as fat as a pig at home. I put on about 7kg,” he said. “Now I’m staying very calm, barely tasting beer.”
Van Den Broeck is currently in Curaçao where he participated in the season-ending Amstel Cucaçao Race. The Belgian is enjoying the opportunity to mix with his fellow riders, although he says that he has had little chance to sound out one of his primary 2011 Tour de France rivals.
“I have spent time with Terpstra, Mollema and Petacchi, even though I don’t speak any Italian,” he said. “But I haven’t had too much contact with Andy Schleck, I don’t know why.”
The 2011 Tour is already dominating Van Den Broeck’s thoughts and he says that the race’s early stage pose a number of obstacles that could have a telling impact on his aspirations.
“The first week of the Tour is full of annoying rides, starting with the Passage du Gois. You could fall off there and lose the race,” he warned. “But the Tour remains an obsession. I still don’t know how high I can finish.”