Belgian rider targeting shorter stage races after six consecutive years at the Tour

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Lotto-Belisol rider Jurgen Van den Broeck will not ride at the 2015 Tour de France, bringing an end to a run of six consectutive Tours in which the Belgian has finished in the top five in the GC on two occassions.

The 31-year-old will instead target one week stage races like Tirreno-Adriatico or the Criterium du Dauphiné in 2015, before moving onto the Vuelta a España in September. The Giro d’Italia may be an option for the climber as well if the first part of his season goes to plan.

“The Tour is the most beautiful race, but I don’t say no to a new project,” said Van den Broek.

“I have a love-hate relationship with the Tour. I got into top five two times, but there are the several crashes I had as well. I was criticized by the media and others. I can put that in perspective, but it’s no fun.

“The Giro can be an option in 2015. That race is special to me because my career as a GC rider started there. I dream of a nice season.

“But I have new dreams for other races as well now. I’ve proven that I’m worth top ten in WorldTour stage races.”

Van den Broeck finished fourth twice at the Tour in 2010 and 2012, but with those finishes came a lot of expectation for the rider to push on to at least podium finish. He’s also had his fair share of bad luck however, particularly after crashing out of the 2013 Tour and damaging his knee, which had a knock-on effect for races in 2014.

“After the Vuelta we took the time to look back and think about the future,” said Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant.

“Jurgen had a long rehabilitation after his crash in the Tour 2013. Then he immediately started his preparation for the 2014 season. Unfortunately, in Tirreno – Adriatico he fell on the same knee he had hurt in the Tour.

‘The Dauphiné was hopeful and that’s why it seemed obvious to start the Tour with a clear ambition. Circumstances made it impossible to fulfill his and our ambitions. In the Vuelta he had no energy left.”

“Jurgen will start the season in the Ruta del Sol,” he continued “followed by the Tirreno – Adriatico and Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

“At the beginning of April we will decide if we choose for a way to the Giro or follow the path of the stage races like Romandie or Switzerland.”

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