Two-time Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) has pledged his support for teammate Tom Boonen at this weekend's edition of the race, should the current Belgian Champion be in a better position to win.
Last week, Devolder brushed off comments from his team manager, Patrick Lefevere, who had expressed concerns about Devolder's approach to lead-up event, Dwars Door Vlaanderen. With teammate Boonen a strong favourite for this Sunday's race, Devolder moved on Thursday to cement his underdog status for the race.
"The Tour of Flanders is one of the biggest races of the spring and the competition will be so strong," said Devolder told Sporza at a press conference held in De Panne, Belgium. "It is worth winning the Ronde as a team. And if on Sunday Tom is the strongest, I will gladly work for him."
Despite his attempt to deflect attention from his own chances of success, Devolder will be a marked man in Sunday's race. His successive victories in 2008 and 2009 both came after successful attacks on the Eikenmolen to set up solo runs into Ninove.
The decision by race organisers to alter the course for the 2010 event has removed Devolder's traditional launching pad, but if successful once again he would join Italian Fiorenzi Magni (1949, 1950 and 1951) as the only other rider to win three Flanders titles on the trot.
"I think the chances [of a third successive win] are relatively slim," said Devolder of the potential record. However, he did indicate that his lack of results this season was not necessarily a sign that he will be completely out of the hunt this weekend.
"I don't know why, but my form is there," he said. "I have done everything and will be there Sunday."