Brandt gears up in Turkey

Christophe Brandt will captain the Silence-Lotto team during the Presidential Tour of Turkey to be held from April 12 to 19. The 32-year-old Belgian specialist of the Grand Tours is aiming to return to his former level in his career, which was derailed by a terrible crash during the Sels Cup in 2007.

That day in September, he was left in critical condition and had to undergo a kidney operation and treatment for perforated lungs. It took him one-and-a-half years to get back on track.; the Tour of Turkey will be a chance for him to continue to regain form and return to enjoying racing again

"Since that crash, I'm not exactly the same rider anymore," he said. "I'm fragile now. I had to pull out of the 2008 Tour de France on the second last day because of a bronchopneumonia I sustained during the first week of the race."

"I went beyond my capacities to ride over the Pyrénées and the Alps. I did it because you don't abandon the Tour de France just like that, but it wasn't enough. This year my goals remain the Ardennes Classics, the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France. I finished 14th in the 2004 Tour of Italy and I plan to reach that level back again. I'll use the Tour of Turkey to gear up."

Usually at this time of the year, Brandt rides the Tour of the Basque Country, but after listening to favorable comments from his teammate about the 2008 Tour of Turkey, he decided to try something new.

"I was told the weather is always good there. The courses are suitable for a solid workout. Accommodation is great. All this considered, the eight days of racing will be very good for me. I've looked at the race manual, I believe stage four from Bodrum to Marmaris and stage seven from Finike to Antalya suit me."

In Turkey, Brandt will lead the Silence-Lotto team with Pieter Jacobs, who finished third in 2008. Gorik Gardeyn, Tom Stubbe, Olivier Kaisen, Jonas Ljungblad, Michiel Elijzen and Bart Dockx will also be part of the team.

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