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While Belgium rides the wave of unprecedented success in the spring classics, two-time Tour of Flanders champion Stijn Devolder is taking a hard look at what went wrong with his spring campaign.
The 31-year-old Devolder hardly made a dent on the roads of northern France and Belgium. He was 55th at Flanders and 105th at Paris-Roubaix and rode without leaving much of an impression in any of the other one-day classics where he typically shines. His lone notable result was fourth in stage 2 at the Ruta del Sol in February, hardly headline-generating stuff.
“I assumed the preparation was perfect and the results would follow. Of course, now I have to ask myself why that didn’t happen,” Devolder told the Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws. “I sacrificed a lot and was not rewarded. We will do some tests to see if it was caused by over-training.”
Devolder joined Vacansoleil on a big-money contract after three seasons at Quick Step, where he won two Flanders crowns, but was let go by the team after Patrick Lefevere said he had been expecting more from the Belgian.
Devolder suggested that perhaps he over-trained and spent too much time at altitude to prepare for the demands of the spring classics.
“I felt like I was heading in the right direction for the Tour of Flanders and I felt that I would feel better after coming back from a period of altitude training, but the reverse happened,” he explained. “Last year, I trained at altitude and it worked out well. I won the Belgian national championships after such a training period, so it seemed like a good idea to do it again.”
Devolder says he will take stock and vows to make up for a disappointing spring with better results as the season unfolds. Last year, he salvaged an equally disappointing spring classics campaign by winning the Belgian national TT and road race crowns.
“I have to rebuild and set things right. I always come back. I’ve already proved what I can do and I am at an age that I know what my capabilities are,” he concluded. “The team’s confidence in me is intact. I am well taken care of and there are no problems between us. They know I live for my job.”
Stijn Devolder’s disastrous spring
● Omloop Het Niuewsblad – 61st
● Paris-Nice – 27th
● Dwaars door Vlaanderen-Waregem – 38th
● E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke – 50th
● Driedaagse De Panne – DNS Stage 3
● Tour of Flanders – 55th
● Scheldeprijs – 90th
● Paris-Roubaix – 105th
● Brabantse Pijil – 37th
● Amstel Gold Race – 69th
● Liège-Bastogne-Liège – DNF