No panic at Omega Pharma-Lotto despite winless 2010
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Monday, March 29, 2010

No panic at Omega Pharma-Lotto despite winless 2010

by Ben Atkins at 1:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 

leif hosteWith Philippe Gilbert’s third place finish at Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem the Omega Pharma-Lotto team’s best result of the season by far; one might think that a little panic would be setting in. This is not the case, say the Belgian ProTour team’s directors in Sporza.

“Indeed we are waiting for the first victory of the season; that’s right," said team director Herman Frison. "Everyone seems to worry about it, except ourselves – with our team you don’t get 50 wins in a season. We continue to be ambitious though. In De Panne Gilbert leads the team, and with men like [Leif] Hoste, [Kenny] Dehaes and [Jürgen] Roelandts we will score.”

The team's 2009 wins were almost entirely reliant on Gilbert and Cadel Evans, although Evans’ biggest win was the World championship road race for his national team, Australia. Since the departure of Robie McEwen to Katusha, the Belgian team has been without a genuinely World class sprinter. Greg Van Avermaet has shown glimpses, winning a stage and the points jersey at the 2008 Vuelta a España, but the 24-year-old is not yet the finished article.

This absence of sprinting class is one of the big things holding the team back, admits team manager Marc Sergeant. "That might be what we need,” Sergeant admitted. “That way someone grabs a win somewhere and that takes some of the pressure away."

All eyes, and pressure, are on Omega Pharma-Lotto’s big Belgian rival Quick Step in Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen. Sergeant will be looking to riders like Hoste to go better than his two second places in 2006 and 2007, and Gilbert to improve on his third place of last year, and deliver the team’s first win in “Flanders’ finest” since Peter Van Petegem in 2003.

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