Is there hope for cycling's most-maligned double Ronde winner? Sporza says that question will be answered over at Radio Shack, as Stijn Devolder joins the Cancellara Crew. Here's Dirk Demol, his soon-to-be directeur, via the gnomes:
Of course it will be my task to Stijn back to level. I know him better than anyone, and follow that boy since the youth categories. It made me really hurt my heart when I saw how sickly season Devolder this year through. If he is not in his skin is, he can not perform. I want him back confidence. That challenge I'm sure and I hope I succeed in my goal to get him back to his old level."
We can all speculate on what has taken Devolder from a major classics protagonist and grand tour shiny object to a completely forgotten rider (at least when the race is on). My sense from past Devolder quotes is that Wouter Weylandt's death was a huge blow to his motivation (and general emotional state). In other words, it's about what's happening upstairs. And I acknowledge that people are complex, he's a total stranger, etc etc., but Demol clearly sees his emotional state as the issue too. In any event, there's no reason why his legs would be the problem. If that's a fair assessment, then reuniting with Demol is as good a strategy as any.
Photo by Bryn Lennon, Getty Images Sport