By Bjorn Haake in Cudillero
Belgian Jurgen Van Goolen of Team CSC-Saxo Bank was the main protagonist in Vuelta a España's stage to Fuentes de Invierno. He was in the break of the day, then pulled away solo. However, on the final stage-ending climb of Puerto de San Isidro, his rivals caught him.
Van Goolen, 27, quickly found the culprit. "It's a pity that Caisse d'Epargne pulled so early," he said, a bit puzzled by the tactics of the Spanish team.
He was somewhat disappointed with the outcome of the stage. "They had a good rider in the break [David Arroyo]. I felt I was the strongest in the break. If they didn't do it [pull in the escape group], I might have won the stage."
Neither Van Goolen nor Caisse d'Epargne won the stage in the end, as Alejandro Valverde faced another day where the results did not materialise.
Caisse d'Epargne's work put paid to Van Goolen shortly after Puerto de San Isidro started. "The last 13 kilometres was all headwind," he said of the climb, which was relatively gradual. "It was impossible to stay on the front alone. Behind, they had a whole team pulling."
The group had Van Goolen, away since kilometre 22 and before the Santo Tirso, in its grasp. He spent 130 kilometres in the escape.
Van Goolen's country is relatively flat considering Spain's mountains. Equally strong climber and compatriot, Jurgen van den Broeck, moved to Italy for better training. Van Goolen acknowledged that his days in his home country may be numbered. "I think I am also planning to move somewhere else."
He can find training grounds in the Ardennes, but they aren't accessible year-round. "For the first part of the year it is impossible to go there." That is exactly the time of year a climber should put in vertical kilometres.
He is confident about his strengths. "I am convinced that I am climbing really well so I have to take advantage of that. I think I can still improve a bit. Sometimes I go to Benidorm in Spain." He has found some good training routes there that help him prepare for his mountain assaults.
Van Goolen's plan for the future is clear, then. "All I have to do is find a place now where I can train more and also longer climbs."