By Gregor Brown
Belgian Stijn Devolder (Vérandas Willems-Crelan) missed the time cut at the Etoile de Bessèges's short 11.9km time trial on Sunday in Alès, France, due to a toilet break.
"Serious gut problems" forced the 37-year-old former national time trial champion and double Tour of Flanders winner to stop. He returned to his Felt bike, but his time fell outside the 3-25-minute time limit based on the winning time of Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal).
"I just had to pull over halfway through the time trial," Devolder told Het Nieuwsblad. "A toilet stop after some serious problems with my gut."
The jury marked him hors delais for the final of five stages in southeast France.
"It was weird because I'm not sick or anything. At the start, I felt something, but thought I would make it to the end. Not so.
"It's too bad because I began well. I had already caught the rider in front of me."
Devolder stopped little time to relieve himself. The 2010 Belgian time trial champion still clocked 21-27 minutes compared to Gallopin's time of 17-05.
In addition to Devolder, the jury marked three others were marked hors delais for the stage.
The GP Marseillaise on January 29 and the five-day Etoile de Bessèges helped provide the needed race kilometres for Devolder. He is building towards Belgium's "opening weekend", the February 25-26 weekend with the races Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
This Sunday he will race the Clasica de Almería in Spain along with Timothy Dupont, who also fell sick during the Etoile de Bessèges.
Team Vérandas Willems-Crelan hopes to be in among the professional continental wildcard teams selected to race the Tour of Flanders on April 2. Devolder won the race back to back in 2008 and 2009.
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