Jurgen Van den Broeck decided to 'get back to his roots' by riding the Giro d'Italia in favour of the Tour de France this season and that decision appears to have been a wise move for the Lotto Soudal leader after he moved up six places on GC to slot into fifth place overall after the sole time trial of the race. Van den Broeck finished the stage 14 59.4km time trial in seventh place 1:25 minute down on stage winner Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) but well ahead of Fabio Aru (Astana) and Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step) and has positioned himself to fight for a podium position in the last week of the race
Of the overall contenders, only Alberto Contador put in a better time than Van den Broeck, which was a shock to the 32-year-old, as he explained his fast pacing was key to taking time back on his podium rivals.
"This morning I did a recon of the course, so I knew what to expect. I did the first ten kilometres and the last thirty kilometres, which were the hardest because of the climbs. Together with sports director Bart Leysen I decided to take a fast start. If you don't start at one hundred per cent it's difficult to take back time in the tough part. I wanted to hang on to that rhythm as long as possible and ride a constant time trial," Van den Broeck said.
"It went smoothly right from the beginning, I didn't have to force anything. When the GC riders had to ride the wind had changed. I had to compare my time with that of my opponents and I noticed that I was doing well. I had a good feeling during the time trial, but still I was surprised that of the GC riders only Contador finished ahead of me."
Van den Broeck only cracked the top-ten for the first time at the Giro on stage 12, finishing ninth, having slowly improved his GC position from 20 to 19 to 18 and 16 and down to 11 before the time trial. On his last appearance at the Giro, Van den Broeck was seventh overall to announce himself as a future Belgian GC contender. Third and place results at the Tour de France and eighth at the Vuelta a España in 2011 was confirmation of his talent over three weeks but prior to this Giro, Van den Broeck had only finished one of his last four grand tours, 13th at last year's Tour.
With a week of climbing to come in the mountains, starting today with a summit finish at Madonna di Campiglio, Van den Broeck is experienced enough to know that the Giro is still far from over.
"Before the start of this time trial I said the Giro began today. It went well for me, but there are still tough days to come. I have faith and want to confirm in the next stages. I now feel more relaxed. I had to take back time, before yesterday's crash I was sixteenth," Van den Broeck added. "In the first week I had some difficult moments uphill. It has always been the plan to be at my best in the second part of the Giro, that might be the cause. I'm in a good position now, that's nice to continue the Giro with. In the Tour de Romandie and here I gained time in the time trial. I worked a lot on this discipline and I'm really happy I could show this today."
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