Belgian Champ Roelandts back in sprint mix

Jürgen Roelandts starts the season well

Jürgen Roelandts starts the season well (Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé)

By Gregor Brown in Doha, Qatar

Jürgen Roelandts is back at the front end of the races in 2009, seven months after he won his first professional race at the Belgian national championships. The Silence-Lotto rider finished third in Tour of Qatar stage three behind his famous compatriot Tom Boonen and Italian Danilo Napolitano.

"When Boonen starts first it is difficult to beat him, but to begin first it is also hard to beat him!" Roelandts said to Cyclingnews.

The 23-year-old in his country's black, yellow and red colours made the elite group of 26 on Tuesday's 137.5-kilometre stage from Al Zubarah to Doha. High winds made it difficult to maintain position when riders formed in echelons to protect themselves.

"I first had four teammates. One had a problem with his wheel and the other one had a flat tyre. You go from four to two, and then it is really difficult."

Roelandts worked with teammate Wilfried Cretskens to control the fellow Belgian team of Tom Boonen, Quick Step. He found his place behind Napolitano as De Jongh led out Boonen.

"It is very difficult to beat Boonen when he is out of wheel only one-hundred metres before the finish."

He will have his chance again in the next three days of the Tour of Qatar. Roelandts travels back to Belgian after the Middle Eastern race to continue his preparations for the Spring Classics.

Roelandts shares responsibilities in Team Silence-Lotto in the one-day races. In the team are also Leif Hoste, Greg van Avermaet and new member Philippe Gilbert.

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