Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is riding Paris-Nice with the aim of testing himself in Friday’s 27km time trial, but he believes that the course as whole is not mountainous enough for him to aspire to overall victory.
“I refuse to put myself under pressure,” Van Den Broeck told Het Nieuwsblad. “That 27km time trial to Aix-en-Provence is a test for me. I haven’t been on my time trial bike too often this year, it’s always hassle bringing it to a training camp.”
Van Den Broeck’s main objective for 2011 will be to improve on his fine 5th place finish from last year’s Tour de France and the Belgian acknowledged that in spite of its relative lack of climbing, Paris-Nice will offer an excellent simulation of some of the circumstances he may face in July.
“In the first days of Paris-Nice, I will try to survive,” Van Den Broeck said. “With the wind, echelons can form at any moment. The nervousness of the first stages will be something comparable to the first week of the Tour.”
However, Van Den Broeck is insistent that Paris-Nice will not be a full dress rehearsal for July, in spite of the plethora of Tour de France winners’ names that punctuate the roll of honour.
“Granted there are a lot of big names of Grand Tour winners, for example Sean Kelly won it seven times,” Van Den Broeck said, before noting that a number of riders who do not aspire to Tour glory will be in contention at Paris-Nice.
“Rider such as Peter Sagan or Sylvain Chavanel can win ‘The Race to the Sun,’” he said. “But in the big mountains, they are a little bit short.”
Van Den Broeck arrives in France fresh from a 2nd place finish at the Ruta del Sol and a training camp in Tenerife, where he came across a number of riders from Liquigas-Cannondale and HTC-Highroad while training on the Pico del Teide. The Belgian is leaving nothing to chance ahead of his major rendezvous.
“The Tour cannot be won or lost in June,” Van Den Broeck said. “After the Tour of Lombardy, I stopped for one week and then I began again. First I built a broad base, and since January 1, I have been at home in Morkhoven for just one week.”