That's one of the wisest things I have read recently. Indead, nothing is as frustrating as seeing a talented rider wasting his career because obessed by one race. I have lived it closely with Andy Schleck so I know what I'm about.
Andy made a better Tour conteder than Jurgen Van den Broeck, he won a Tour and was twice second while the best results for Van den Broeck are two 4th place. Still he used to focus all his season on the Tour and, sum up, to achieve few. Some bad crashes, injuries and illness made things more complicated.
Now I see that together with Team Lotto Belisol Van den Broeck tries to shape a different calendar, with a grand tour in the schedule but as the conclusion of a - hopefully - successful season. La Vuelta is a splendid race, a race for true climbers and I don't get why it's so often negletted by top riders. Short tours can be amazing, Tour de Suisse and Dauphiné often are but also Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice are very hard and beautiful races. I think a rider should be happy and proud to have a victory in one of those races, even happier than to finish top 20 in a grand tour. A victory is a victory. No matter if a top 20 in the Tour earns you more points and maybe money than a victory in a short tour. That's my opinion.
I can't help thinking that if Andy had done a similar choice in 2012... he was still racing and maybe with some nice victories under his belt. But ok, the past is past. I talked with him few days ago, he's very happy with his new life, with his son and family. He's always been special, I'm sure he's going to do great. And consider that 'great' means 'making you feel proud and satisfied", it can be anything.
As far as Van den Broeck, I has always liked him and I'm really glad to find him so wise, so mature. Marc Sergeant is also to laud: he has been probably able to pick the right words to persuade his rider, and that's important.
Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Belisol:
"After the Vuelta we took the time to look back and think about the future. 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.
A few weeks ago we sat together. I suggested not to ride the Tour; that way Jurgen is freed from the Tour pressure and the expectations there are after two fourth places. My idea was to focus on the WorldTour stage races of one week and to ride the Vuelta. WorldTour points are important for Jurgen and the team. He agreed not to ride the Tour, but would maybe like to add the Giro to his race programme. The race where it all began when he got into top ten in 2008. Jurgen will start the season in the Ruta del Sol, 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."
Jurgen Van den Broeck:
"My plans for 2015 were made together with the team. It will be different than other years, but with the same dedication for my new goals. I want to show what I've got. The Tour podium is still a dream, there are other riders that have skipped a year. But I have new dreams for other races as well now. I've proven that I'm worth top ten in WorldTour stage races.
The Tour is the most beautiful race, but I don't say no to a new project. 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."