Lotto-Belisol's Jurgen Van Den Broeck is racing according to plan at the Tour de France and, despite going down in a few crashes, he is pleased with his current fifth place overall at 1:45 minutes behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). After the stage 7 finish in Nancy, the 31 year-old Belgian rider spoke with the press outside his team bus about his prospects heading into the mountains.
"The Tour goes according to plan. I think I moved up two spots today. It's good to head to the Vosges mountains like that. Finally, the mountains. It'll be less stressful than during days like today. It's not an option to give away a metre because that can become a second and those can be crucial in the end," Van Den Broeck said. "Tomorrow it'll be a tough finish but on Monday the cards will really be shuffled. Tomorrow it's for the punchers but Monday is the real test."
During stage 7 on Friday, Van Den Broeck was in the small peloton that sprinted for the victory until he crashed in one of the final corners. Since his crash occurred within the final three kilometers, he was given the same time as his group. "In front of me, they hooked into each other. I don't know what happened but I couldn't get away," he said. "It’s the third day in a row. There's no severe damage so that's the good news. Only the wounds of the previous crashes opened again but that's not too bad.
"There's a positive side to these crashes and that's that I'll be very skinny because there's no skin left," Van Den Broeck continued. "I don't get demotivated. The first time I rode the Tour I had no skin left after the team time trial and afterwards I rode a good Tour. Yesterday, I told my teammates that a soldier at war has gunshot wounds too. My legs felt great, so it's really frustrating to crash. I can't complain because the outcome is zero. Last year, I crashed once and it was over. I'm not losing time and I'm not wounded, at least no new wounds. That's the most important thing."
Van den Broeck isn't the only overall contender to crash this week, Chris Froome (Sky) is already out of the race with a fractured wrist and hand after his crashes. On Friday, both Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin) went down hard. Van Garderen lost about a minute due to his crash.
"I just saw the TV-footage and I think he [Talansky] crashed much harder than I did. It seemed more stupid than my crash because he was looking behind, during the sprint. I can't understand that. I planned to avoid trouble and find a safe spot but then you're on the ground too. Tejay? With a crash, it's never good news if someone's losing time. They crashed really hard and I barely managed to avoid them."
The Tour de France heads into the Vosges mountains with stage 8 from Tomblaine to Gérardmer La Mauselaine that includes a finish on top of a third category climb.