Tour de Romandie news feature, April 26, 2005
After Liège-Bastogne-Liège, team manager Marc Sargeant said they need a 'striker' - someone that can finish off the job once in the winning move. Directeur-sportif Dirk De Wolf has found Cadel Evans' performances so far 'disappointing'. To make matters worse, Davitamon boss Marc Coucke is also getting antsy.
To say there is pressure on his Belgian ProTour team to notch a win in Romandie today would be an understatement. However, when we spoke with another of Davitamon-Lotto's managers, Hendrik Redant, he defended his team's ability to take that next step.
"Well, last week at the Tour of Georgia, we had a win with Fred Rodriguez so that was lucky for us, but indeed, we would like more," Redant told Cyclingnews in Geneva yesterday. "We have one chance tomorrow with Robbie because it's a sprint, and let's hope that Chris Horner and Cadel [Evans] and [Wim] Van Huffel will get some form in this race, because the last four days are quite hard. But I think our best hope is tomorrow with Robbie McEwen."
Since Evans claimed to be diagnosed with the recessive affliction known as Hunter's syndrome, the 29 year-old Australian has undergone a series of tests, with the initial prognosis indicating he has nothing to worry about. "He's still busy on that, he's not sure," said Redant.
"We're not sure if it's really a problem; it could be something that just happened to him as a consequence of an allergic reaction, so we'll see how he reacts this week... if it happens again, then I think something's wrong and we have to sort it out." McEwen has also experienced a bout of illness earlier this month, missing a number of races including Gent-Wevelgem, but Redant added he's been training well the last few weeks, which showed in yesterday's prologue.
One rider showing no signs of weakness, however, is American Chris Horner, who was one of eight riders sprinting for the win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège last Sunday. True, many riders are using the Tour de Romandie to prepare for the Giro d'Italia, but this Swiss ProTour race is an extremely prestigious in itself. Said Redant: "I've seen Chris Horner do really, really well and it's one of his last race before he returns back to America to be with his family.
"You can see he's performing at a high peak now - we saw that at Liège-Bastogne-Liège - so we have some opportunities with him, [Johan] Van Summeren, Cadel... We also have Van Huffel who needs to get his form back, so I think we have the ability to get there in the first 10 - let's see and let's hope."
Finally, with less than a fortnight to go before the first Grand Tour of the year begins on May 6, it was inevitable for talk to conclude with questions on the 2006 edition of the Giro. "As you know, the first four days of the Giro are in Belgium and are quite important for us. This is already a big test for Robbie, as well as trying to get over those hills later in the week."
Said Redant when asked about the team composition: "Still busy [with that], but of course, we will evaluate [our options] after this race and see how things are. Inside, we already have our names - but we'll only tell you next week," he grinned.