A member of the Lotto-Soudal setup since 2007 and previously third and fourth overall in the Tour de France while with the team, it appears that Jurgen Van den Broeck’s time with the Belgian squad may be close to coming to an end.
The 32 year old decided to focus on the Giro d’Italia rather than the Tour de France this year, but, despite structuring his season around it he had to be content with 12th overall.
That performance plus reported tension with team-mate Maxime Monfort is thought to point towards a probable exit at the end of the season, according to his coach Marc Lamberts.
“Jurgen and Lotto, it’s over. For me he rides there for two seasons too long,” he stated, reports Belga. “The trust in him is no longer there.”
The team’s general manager Marc Sergeant has made his disappointment public. “Twelfth place is not what we counted on,” he stated. “Jurgen is often not right [in terms of his form and health – ed]. This Giro was so tough that everybody ended up in their [correct] place.”
However Lamberts questions the team’s support of the rider. He was sitting fifth overall in the general classification after the long time trial, but crashed en route to the Madonna di Campiglio climb and slipped down the standings.
He expresses displeasure that Maxime Monfort didn’t help his team-mate at that point.
“In which other team can the eleventh-placed in the standings not wait for the one in fifth?” he asks.
Belga also states that the rider had to himself pay to have a physiotherapist there, and also had to organise and foot the bill for his previously high altitude camp in Tenerife.
Van den Broeck’s strong finishes in the Tour came in 2010, when he finished third [albeit after Alberto Contador and Denis Menchov were disqualified] and two years later, when he took fourth.
Since then he withdrew due to injury in 2013 and then finished back in 13th last year. He had been third overall in the Criterium du Dauphine in the run up to the race, but things didn’t go to plan.
The rumours of tension at the Giro between himself and Monfort were fuelled in part by TV images shown by the Danish channel TV2 after stage , where Monfort snapped at Van den Broeck, saying ‘you’re jealous.’
The former had finished 13th on the stage, 2 minutes 49 seconds behind the winner Fabio Aru (Astana). Van den Broeck also finished in the same time, placing 16th.
According to La Dernière Heure, Monfort claimed that Van den Broeck didn’t act correctly. “He has not shown fair play and did not cooperate honestly,” he said. “If the team had asked me to wait for Jurgen that day [the day of the Mortirolo – ed.], I would have followed the decision, but things had been very clearly established before the start of the Giro: we went in as strict equals.”
Sergeant later played that down. “You can imagine that such things happen when you looked at the top ten and realizes that one will miss out,” he said. “It was just a reaction just after the arrival, the evening had been resolved. There is absolutely no quarrel.”
He added that he didn’t consider it a better choice to have picked one rider over the other, saying he didn’t believe that would have made much of a difference. Monfort finished 11th in the Giro, Van den Broeck 12th.
He sought to downplay talk that decisions had been made in relation to 2016. “Will we give them new contracts?” he said rhetorically. “The Giro was just the first big race, the evaluation will follow. Then we’ll see.”