Interesting little story about Jurgen Van den Broeck in cyclingnews. The guy was once a hot shot Tour de France contender but in recent years injury and meager results pushed him out of his old squad and into Katusha.
Based on the quotes, the 32 year old Belgian was feeling lonely and unwanted. “It was lonely at times, especially in training when there was so much time to think and wonder if all of it was really worth it when the support and backing was not there. I was always a rider who cared about my preparation and came to races ready to compete and go full gas, so it felt strange to not feel supported.”
You hear a lot of athletes talk about “respect” when it comes to contract talks. In Van den Broeck’s case, it sounds like it’s more about “love.” The guy just needs some hugs and understanding and a warm environment.
This sound a lot like Edvald Boasson Hagen’s departure from Sky. The Norwegian wasn’t producing results to the level that the Sky Performance Algorithm has projected and got the cold shoulder from the British squad. Off he went to a warmer climate in South Africa and the Qhubeka outfit.
Meanwhile Van den Broeck is claiming that the love is over at the Russian Katusha squad this winter. He is reunited with former teammates and mentors Viacheslav Ekimov and Jose Azevedo from back at the Discovery Channel team.
Katusha doesn’t have the reputation for warm and fuzzy but Van den Broeck insists this is where he’ll get the love he needs. “The image of the team is that it is not open or friendly but I have already told people this is simply not true. I would recommend this team to any rider I spoke to,” says the Belgian.
Well, love is often blind but so far he’s happy. It remains to be seen if that will translate into wins and a return to grand tour form.
Our signature memory of the Belgian was the finish of stage 17 of the 2010 Tour de France atop the Col du Tourmalet. He was riding toward a fifth overall when he crossed the line and rode right thru the middle of a press conference with French president Nicolas Sarkozy — who was there for some media love.
It was a bit of hilarious improv theater as the Belgian didn’t give a crap who was blocking his path. “If he’s in my way, I’m going over him. If he comes to the race, he’s got to move aside for the riders,” said the Belgian.
It was that take-no-prisoners attitude that we thought would serve him well and take him to a win in a grand tour someday soon. However, that hasn’t happened just yet. Then again, now he is getting some love over at Katusha.