Winning the final stage of the Tour of Luxembourg was a major career milestone for Jürgen Roelandts. Not only was it the first victory for Lotto-Belisol rider since October 2008, it also marked his successful return from a fractured cervical vertebrae he suffered in the Tour Down Under this January.
The win meant a lot to him, “especially after the past few months. It proves that I worked as much as possible during my rehabilitation. I knew after the Tour of Belgium that my form was good."
The Belgian won the closing stage in what the team called “a long and beautiful solo escape in apocalyptic weather.” Heavy rains pounded the course and only sixty riders finished the stage.
On the team website, Roelandts said, “The stage actually fit me like a glove. It was a little too hard for the sprinters, a technical local circuit, and the weather was in my favour. Not that I really like bad weather, but I ride pretty well in it.”
The team had agreed he should try to be in the day's break group, and he executed the plan. “Cooperation in our group of four was pretty god, but I felt I was the strongest.” He broke away from the other three with 10 kilometres to go and crossed the finish line alone.
The win has given Roelandts enough confidence that he is now not only looking forward to the Belgian championships, but also suggesting he might be ready for the Tour de France and 2012 London Olympics. Roelandts has been one of André Greipel's main lead-out men. “In the Tour of Belgium and here in Luxembourg we proved that the train for Greipel runs like never before. We must also do that in the Tour,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
He heads next to the Ster ZLM Tour (June 14-17), where he and Greipel will go up against other top sprinters such as Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). “This is a test that can count for the Tour.
“But my ambitions extend even further. Why would I not qualify for the Olympics? I want to use the coming weeks to prove I can still optimally use my reserves.”
Roelandts was away from racing for about four months after his serious crash in the second stage of the Tour Down Under in January. He had hoped to ride again in Tirenno-Adriatico, but developed a blood clot which delayed his return to action. Only in mid-May was he given the green light to race again.