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Lotto Belisol: Strong Stig Broeckx in Tour of Flanders, Jürgen Roelandts out after crash

The 98th Tour of Flanders was marred by numerous crashes. One of the victims was Lotto Belisol leader Jürgen Roelandts. He incurred several bruises and abrasions and was forced to quit. Stig Broeckx, who made his début, was part of the long breakaway and rode in front for about 170 kilometers. Together with two companions he stayed ahead till the top of the Koppenberg. The neo-pro covered some of the hills literally for the first time, which made his performance even more remarkable. At the finish in Oudenaarde it was eventually Fabian Cancellara who won the Tour of Flanders for the third time.

Jürgen Roelandts crashes
From the moment the official start was given in Oostkamp, the riders raised the tempo. Only after forty kilometers eleven riders could set up a breakaway. Stig Broeckx, who rode the Ronde for the first time, was one of them. The escapees had a maximum lead of 6’05”. Jürgen Roelandts was positioned on the front rows of the peloton at the foot of the Oude Kwaremont, the first hill of the day, that was promising. But over halfway in the race he crashed and had to abandon. Examination in hospital showed no fractures, but Jürgen has several bruises and abrasions over his entire body. He was hit at both arms, elbows, the pelvis and left knee. Jürgen got three stitches at the inside of the left elbow and three stitches left at the pelvis. His right forearm, thumb and hand are in plaster for now, because of a severe bruise of among other the scaphoid. Only a miracle can bring him at the start of Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.

Jürgen Roelandts: “Before the crash all went perfectly. I felt very good. Suddenly a rider braked in front of me and a bike blocked my way, I was the only one who fell. It was immediately clear that the race was over. My expectations of a good result were gone.”

Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Belisol: “When will the bad luck be over? Last week André Greipel crashed in Ghent-Wevelgem and now Jürgen Roelandts. Tony Gallopin crashed twice and also Jens Debusschere stood at the side of the road. They both felt good as well. We have to see with which riders we will ride Paris-Roubaix. We have to recover mentally from this new set back.”

Stig Broeckx in front till the Koppenberg
In the front the escapees disappeared one by one. On the top of the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont the front group had been reduced to three men: Stig Broeckx, Daryl Impey and Taylor Phinney. That moment the three had less than one minute lead on the peloton. They survived the Paterberg and rode up the Koppenberg together, with Stig in first position. At the top they were reeled in by a peloton with Tony Gallopin, who crashed twice today. On the Taaienberg Greg Van Avermaet attacked and got the company of Stijn Vandenbergh. On the third and last climb of the Oude Kwaremont Fabian Cancellara accelerated and only Sep Vanmarcke could follow. Together they rode to Stijn Vandenbergh after the Paterberg, who was left behind by Greg on that climb. Then the three of them joined the BMC rider. At the finish Cancellara beat the three Belgians. Van Avermaet became second and Vanmarcke third.

A happy Stig Broeckx
Stig Broeckx: “This was the first time in my life I rode that many kilometers in one day. During the recon on Thursday I rode up some hills for the first time, like the Koppenberg. It was great to experience my first Ronde like this, it was like a dream. In the beginning I did everything I could to be in the break, I was one of three riders who had to try to get away. I reacted to every move and was relieved when I finally was in the break. I actually felt very good on the hills. The crowd along the route made me forget about the pain; I really got goose bumps.”

“When I heard I would ride my first Tour of Flanders I was very satisfied. I’m very happy with this performance. Today I showed I’m growing towards the level of someone like Taylor Phinney, with whom I raced in the youth categories. I hope to make progression each year. It’s one adventure. Each year I set bigger steps thanks to the Lotto Cycling Talent project. But I did surprise myself today. The past years I was already strong in this kind of races, but now I’ve shown with the pros that the Flemish spring races suit me.”

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