PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : Lotto Belisol: Jurgen Van den Broeck does a recon of the cobbled stage of the Tour

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Lotto Belisol: Jurgen Van den Broeck does a recon of the cobbled stage of the Tour
Today Jurgen Van den Broeck and sports director Herman Frison did a reconnaissance of the fifth stage in the upcoming Tour de France. This stage of 156 kilometers starts in Ypres and arrives in Arenberg. There are nine cobblestone sections from Paris-Roubaix on the route, good for a total length of 15.4 kilometers. It’s that part both men went to take a look at.

Nine cobblestone sections
The first cobblestone section on the 9th of July will begin after 87 kilometers, it’s the one in Gruson. In Paris-Roubaix these stones lie at 14 kilometers from the finish, while in the Tour the riders will ride away from the velodrome and ride towards the east. On the course are also the cobbles of Mons-en-Pévèle, although the riders only have to cover one third of the distance compared to Paris-Roubaix. This sector is the only one which is done in the same direction as during the Hell of the North. The longest section is the penultimate one: Wandignies-Hamage – Hornaing (3700 m). The last sector goes from Hélesmes to Wallers (1600 m). Then it’s about six kilometers towards the finish in Arenberg. In 2010 the Tour also visited the cobblestones, then Van den Broeck was 9th in the stage classification. Jurgen and Herman Frison make a round-up of the recon.

Need to get used to it
Herman Frison, sports director: “Today we did a recon of the last eighty kilometers of the fifth stage of the Tour. We started just outside Gruson, where the first cobblestone section lies. It’s totally different to approach these sectors because it’s in the opposite direction as in Paris-Roubaix. You need to get used to that. For Jurgen Van den Broeck it doesn’t make any difference, he has never contested Paris-Roubaix, but for the other guys this will be weird and ask some adjustments. If it’s possible with their programmes the other riders from the Tour selection will do a reconnaissance as well.”

“If you have never rode Paris-Roubaix you can get surprised, that’s why we did this recon. Now Jurgen knows what to expect. These cobblestones are specific. During the Tour there will be many riders in the peloton who aren’t used to this kind of racing. There are nine sections to cover, two more than four years ago. Such a recon isn’t only useful for Jurgen his personal feeling on the cobbles, but he now also knows which type of tyres he wants to use and which pressure is needed. That’s all very important.”

Nervous stage
“In between the first sections there are relative long parts with asphalt, it gets tougher as the stage continues. The last part consists of longer sections, up to 3700 meters. From the third last part on there’s a fast succession of sectors and there’s not much space in between. Nine sections are much. Some riders can possibly lose the Tour here. It will be a short and nervous stage. Everybody, especially the GC riders, will be afraid. All teams will want to bring their GC riders to the front. Then there are also those riders who aim for the stage win. On top of that there’s the risk of a puncture, it’s difficult to get to your rider by car.”

Special feeling on the cobbles
Jurgen Van den Broeck: “This is in any case a special feeling if you’re not used to race on cobbles. I’ve done this kind of stage in the Tour before. Of course such a stage is not easy. In my first years as a pro I often rode the semi classics. So I know what it is to race on cobbles, but these ones are worse. I’ve indeed never participated in the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix.”

“The teammates are very important, four years ago they brought me towards the cobblestone sections perfectly. It’ a big advantage when you have men around you that are used to ride classics like Paris-Roubaix and to pull sprints. This recon was important to me to know how the run-up to the sections is, how they look like and how this succession of sectors feels like.”

Don’t stand afraid at the start
“Like everybody I’m nervous for this stage, but I definitely won’t start with too much fright, that’s not good for anything. You can’t control bad luck, but I certainly have a good feeling about racing on the cobbles. This kind of stage doesn’t really belong in the Tour according to me, but the last years one’s looking for spectacle. You have to take it as it comes. The stage starts in Belgium, but because of what has to come, that will mostly take part around us. There will be a full focus on the passage over the cobblestones. The spring races are over. Now I have a rest period and then the preparation on the Tour starts with among other the recon of the mountain stages.”

The cobblestone sections
. Gruson – Carrefour de l’Arbre (1100 m)
. Ennevelin – Pont-Thibaut (1400 m)
. Mons-en-Pévèle (1000 m)
. Bersée (1400 m)
. Orchies – Beuvry (1400 m)
. Sars-et-Rosières – Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes (2400 m)
. Brillon – Warlaing (1400 m)
. Wandignies-Hamage – Hornaing (3700 m)
. Hélesmes – Wallers (1600 m)


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