The atmosphere at the Lotto Belisol team bus in sunny Aix-en-Provence on Thursday morning was downcast. Only a few moments earlier, the team's GC-rider Jurgen Van den Broeck realized he wasn't able to continue the Tour de France. The Belgian rider sustained a knee injury in the bunch crash of stage 5. It's the second time in three editions Van den Broeck crashes out of the Tour de France. In 2012 the Belgian finished fourth in Paris.
Without GC ambitions the Belgian team has to reshuffle their tactics throughout the race. The team's director sportif Marc Wauters was clearly still downhearted by the departure of Van den Broeck. Then again Wauters emphasized that there were still other cards to play in order to make a good Tour of the next two weeks. As Thursday's stage showed the strongest card to play is André Greipel. The German champion fell short during the first full-on bunch sprint in Marseille on Wednesday but Greipel fought back with his win on in Montpellier. Already before the stage Wauters didn't feel like it was all over already.
"We had one leader for the GC and we lost him," Wauters said, "but we're only one week into the Tour. We have to try and safe what we can in the remaining weeks. When Jurgen [Van den Broeck] crashed out of the race two years ago we still managed to win two stages. Jelle Vanendert won a stage and got the polka-dotted jersey. It's all possible. We just have to keep on working, focus on the Tour. Life goes on," Wauters said. "Yesterday we narrowly missed the win. We missed Jurgen Roelandts. He was part of the first crash and as a result he was at the back of the peloton at the climb, then he got dropped. If there's no crash and Jurgen can start in the front of the peloton at the climb he would survive it. Then we would have one man more in the sprint."
While talking about Van den Broeck it became obvious that nobody expected that he would not be able to start stage 6.
"Last night it was absolutely unlikely he would abandon. We hoped it would all be fine. This morning at breakfast Jurgen was looking very pale. The knee was all swollen again. The doctor got 85cc blood out of it, it wasn't just fluid. We contacted doctor Toon Claes in Herentals too. Then we tried to get on the rollers but there was no way he could get the pedals round. That's where it stops. His reaction? You can imagine how he reacted. How would you react when you work for years towards that one goal and a stupid crash – they're always stupid – ruins that."