Roelandts has had a troubled past two seasons. In 2012 the Lotto-Belisol rider broke a vertebra in his neck in a crash at the Tour Down Under, which saw him miss the first half of the season. Later that same year he broke his collarbone. Just when it looked like things were going on the right track last year, he suffered eye damage at Omloop Het Niuewsblad and was later hit by an organiser’s car during Gent-Wevelgem. Roelandts hopes that it is onwards and upwards from here.
“It cannot go worse than last year, Roelandts told Cyclingnews. "Two years ago I was injured and last year I had a lot of bad luck. I think I am in good condition and with a bit more luck than last year I can get some nice results."
The only ray of sunshine in the Belgian’s troubled two years was a podium place at last year’s Tour of Flanders. He was dropped by Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan on the Peterberg, but caught Sagan before the line. He was eventually out-sprinted by the Cannondale rider, but it was enough to secure him third.
Roelandts is from Asse in Flanders, just down the road from the finish of the Tour of Flanders in Oudenaarde. He rides the race route daily and it continues to drive his passion for the race that he dreams of winning.
“I grew up in this area and I’ve always wanted to win Flanders, which is not easy. Now that I’ve been on the podium, I have achieved one goal. If someone were to say now that you can get third again or you can race for getting first, I would want to race for getting first and not third,” he said.
This year’s Tour of Flanders route is a little different to that of 2013. Last year’s route was heavily criticised for its long flat sections killing off the aggression in the race. This season, there is no more than 12km between the climbs and the finishing circuit has also been altered. Roelandts believes this will have a big impact on the race.
“The Koppenberg comes later and the decision will be made there,” he said. “Before it was 80km to go and now it is 30 or 40km to go. It will be a big change. I haven’t looked so close at the route. It will be next week that I do the parcours and then I will know.”
Roelandts was unable to replicate his second place from 2011 at E3 Harelbeke on Friday. He couldn’t hang on to Sagan’s many attacks and eventually finished in the third group on the road, just over a minute behind the leaders. However he remains confident that the team can pull a big result out in the coming week.
“I think we have a good team with (Tony) Gallopin coming into the selection for the Flemish classics. You have (Jens) Debusschere, who is in good condition and Pim Ligthart too. I think we have a very strong team, a team that doesn’t have to wait for the race, but can really make the race.”
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