The Belgian hope for a high placing in the Tour de France received somewhat of a knock as Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) finished a distant 77th place in the prologue on home soil. Van den Broeck lost 21 seconds on top favourite Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the 6.4km long time trial in the city of Liège.
"Twenty seconds is negligible," Van den Broeck said. "We'll see at the end of the Tour de France but I don't have to look at others but at myself. It's important that I don't lose twenty seconds on a man like [Robert] Gesink,"
While losing 11 seconds on defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC), Van den Broeck lost only two seconds on Robert Gesink (Rabobank) who has similar climbing qualities as the Belgian.
"I think I can improve and the legs are not good yet, so it wasn't bad. I know the rhythm has to come but I'm confident it'll come."
The performance from Wiggins didn't surprise Van den Broeck. "It was to be expected. In the Dauphiné you could tell he's riding on another level in this discipline. My goal was to clock a time of 7:30, that would be good for me and it is 7:41. I think that all in all I can be satisfied. I hope to do better [in the long time trials]," said Van den Broeck.
According to the Belgian, riding on home soil in the Tour de France resulted in a special atmosphere as the huge amount of fans – probably mainly Belgians – cheered him on when he rode on the course in sunny Liège.
"It was fun, it gave a kick but maybe not good enough. I didn't expect that my legs would already be super in the prologue, right after altitude training. I think I was further back in the past. I cannot be happy but it could've been worse."
Last year there was no opening time trial in the Tour de France but two years ago Van den Broeck lost ten seconds on Evans in Rotterdam, and 22 seconds on eventual – later suspended – winner Alberto Contador; he was 7 seconds ahead of then struggling Wiggins. Back in 2009 during the 15.5km long opening time trial in Monaco the Belgian lost 53 seconds on eventual winner Contador, 52 seconds on Wiggins and 48 seconds on Evans.