The first week of the Tour went up and down like a yo-yo for our team. It all started with a bang with fast Phil’s impressive victory on stage 1, but was followed by our below par performance in the team time-trial and Jurgen van de Walle’s retirement from the race following a crash on stage 1. After that we had superb results with André and Phil, who could have easily won 3 stages. Jurgen van den Broeck’s crash, during which he sustained serious injuries and Frederik Willems also went down in and couldn’t continue, was of course disastrous. Most recently we had the superb success for André, who was able to get the better of Mark Cavendish in a direct duel and thus provide the best answer to all the negative remarks he had received over the last few weeks. We also had the outstanding second place of Jelle Vanendert on the first tough stage in the Pyrenees.
Now Phil has lost his green jersey and we are already making plans how we can get it back. In fact it’s really easy – he merely has to pick up more points than the others. That’s the theory but in reality it’s not quite so simple. I have looked at the coming stages and the only possibility I see is that Phil drops his rivals and takes points in the sprints which come directly after big mountain climbs, thereby turning his current deficit into an advantage. It would of course be helpful to win a stage, for example in Pinerolo and/or Paris although I wouldn’t begrudge André the win in Paris because that makes a sprinter immortal. So you see, it’s all very difficult, but I never said that it would be easy but possible. We shall see what happens and if he recaptures green, then that will be great. If, however, he doesn’t quite manage it, we’ll still be happy that he wore it for at least a few days.