The Omega Pharma-Lotto captain Jurgen Van den Broeck gained some crucial self-confidence for the approaching month of July thanks to his first pro victory. In July he would like to build on the superb performance he produced in the Tour de France in 2010. The current Belgian number 1 demonstrated his form on French soil at the 8-stage Critérium du Dauphiné as the riders got the chance to get their first taste of what it will be like on the “big loop” because the individual time-trial on stage 3 follows an identical route to the race against the watch in July. The four mountain top finishes, however, also made it a race for climbers like Jurgen Van den Broeck.
After the prologue of 5.4 km the Dutchman Lars Boom was in first place, 14 seconds up on the 28 year old Omega Pharma-Lotto captain. However, even the first stage contained the first mountain top finish of the event and dramatically reshuffled the general classification. After two second category climbs and one third category climb, the stage finished at the top of the second category climb in the mountain village Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse at an altitude of 884m. The first breakaway of the day contained Canyon rider Sven Vandousselaere, but it was reeled in at the 10 kilometre mark. On the subsequent 7.4 kilometre climb the race favourites faced their first stiff test. Jurgen Van den Broeck and Thomas Voeckler attempted to close the gap to HTC-Highroad rider Kanstantin Sivtsov but couldn’t escape. When Sivtsov was swallowed up by the main field Thomas Voeckler jumped again and only Jurgen Van den Broeck was able to follow him. However, it was to be the final attack of the day which the spectators were to see from the Frenchman. Voeckler was not able to go with Jurgen Van den Broeck’s counter-attack and the Belgian then went on to win his first pro race in style and in a field containing world class riders. In the overall classification Van den Broeck was now in second place 11 seconds down on the new race leader Alexandre Vinokourov.
In the 42 km individual time-trial in and around Grenoble Tony Martin showed that he is one of the best time-trialists in the world. His time of 55.27 was the fastest time of the day by a comfortable margin. Jurgen Van den Broeck didn’t have the best of days and finished back in 17th place some 2.39 minutes down on Martin, however he was able to make up time on the upcoming mountain top finishes. Apart from stage 4, which was reserved for the sprinters, Jurgen Van den Broeck was consistently among the best riders at the finish line and also finished in the top ten riders on each of the final three stages, enabling him to consolidate a very creditable 4th place in the final overall classification. Jurgen now wants to further improve his already scintillating form before the start of the Tour and is pulling out all the stops to ensure that he, Philippe Gilbert and Andre Greipel all make their mark on this year’s Tour de France.