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“I was so disappointed that  - because of a lot of bad luck – I could not play a role in Paris-Roubaix and help Fabian more. This was my answer. I already look forward to part two of the season. No Amstel Gold Race for me,...

Photo: Sirotti

BEN HERMANS

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BRABANTSE PIJL

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STIJN DEVOLDER

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TONY GALLOPIN

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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11.04.2013 @ 11:21 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Double Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder (Radioshack) finished off his spring season in a perfect by taking a fine 8th in yesterday's Brabantse Pijl after doing a lot of work throughout the day. The Belgian was happy to take his revenge after a disappointing performance in the Tour of Flanders.

 

After a couple of years with struggles to live up to the high expectations as one of the spring captain on the Vacansoleil team, Stijn Devolder is back in a domestique role at the Radioshack team. The new surroundings and less pressure have had a good effect on the double winner of the Tour of Flanders as he was much stronger in the spring classics than he has been for a number of years.

 

In the Tour of Flanders, he played a key role in the preparation of teammate Fabian Cancellara's victory as his hard chasing work in the final part of the race was able to neutralize a number of dangerous attacks. With his 8th place in yesterday's first of the hilly one-day races, he once again proved that he is finally able to be a main protagonist in the spring races.

 

The Belgian was happy to once again feel like his former self.

 

“Maybe I worked a bit too hard to be fresh in the last kilometer but I don’t regret anything," he said. "Already this morning I said that I wanted to race and give everything without thinking too much. I did and I showed to be rider again."

 

No radios

Devolder managed to close the gap to an early breakaway in solo fashion inside the final 50km of the race. However, he was chased by a 3-man group of eventual podium finisher Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), Davide Malacarne (Europcar) and Paul Voss (NetApp-Endura) who managed to gain contact with the front group just moments later.

 

In hindsight, Devolder would have liked to save some energy by dropping back to that chase group.

 

“I did not really want to go solo," he explained. "I just followed Nicki Sörensen (Saxo-Tinkoff, ed.) who accelerated. I took over, looked behind me and saw that I already had 100 meters. I was flying. As we had no radios, I didn’t really know which option to chose, but then I saw a big tv screen and saw that the leaders were not so far in front of me. That’s why I continued my effort to join. A pity that I didn’t know that Leukemans and some others were coming as well. I could have waited for them and saved some forces for the final."

 

A sweet revenge

After his strong performance in Flanders, Devolder had hoped to play a similar key role in the Paris-Roubaix but a waste of energy due to plenty of bad luck meant that he had no energy left with 55km remaining, thus isolating Cancellara much earlier than hoped for. The Belgian was happy to get his revenge in yesterday's race and finish his spring season on a high note.

 

“I was so disappointed that  - because of a lot of bad luck – I could not play a role in Paris-Roubaix and help Fabian more," he said. "This was my answer. I already look forward to part two of the season. No Amstel Gold Race for me, but some other nice things are lying ahead of me.”

 

Bad luck for Gallopin

Devolder saved the day on an otherwise unlucky day for the Luxembourg team. The team's pre-race captain, an in-form Tony Gallopin, had a puncture just moments before the crucial point in the race when Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) attacked on the Hertstraat climb with 18km to go.

 

With no chance to join the move, the Frenchman was left behind in a chase group which was picked up by the peloton. Instead he had to settle for a 13th place as he won the sprint of the bunch.

 

The Frenchman was disappointed but chose to focus on his good sensations ahead of Sunday's Amstel Gold Race.

 

“I am sure I would have been able to follow those guys”, he said. “Unfortunately I flatted with one lap to go. Really at the worst moment. On such a demanding circuit, it was impossible to come back, especially as the peloton was split up in so many groups. But I cannot complain. I am healthy again, I found my good legs again and won the sprint of the peloton. I will be ready for the Ardennes classics.”

 

Strong performance by Hermans

Sports director Dirk Demol was disappointed to see a possible podium place slip away but was delighted to see Devolder and Ben Hermans who was part of the day's early break save the day.

 

“I think Ben Hermans was the strongest guy of the six riders”, he explained. “Ben worked hard, maybe even a bit too hard in the end. As this was a race without radios we could not tell him that Stijn Devolder was coming and that Ben had to pace a bit. When Stijn joined the break, Ben continued to work for Stijn. We saw a nice team effort. Also Ben King tried everything to go in the break and without the flat tyre of Gallopin in the end, a podium spot for the team would have been very realistic.”

 

The team now turns its attention to the first of three Ardennes classics, Sunday's Amstel Gold Race. You can follow that race live on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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