Lotto Belisol is going into the 2012 season with a new name and a new combination of sponsors, and without world number one rider Philippe Gilbert. But the Belgian team has gotten off to a booming start, with sprinter Andre Greipel taking three WorldTour stage wins at the Santos Tour Down Under.
“I hope the form I showed in Australia will hold for a while,” Greipel said. The sprinter has his eye on the earlier Spring Classics of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix.
The later Classics will be for Vanendert, who last year broke through with strong performances in those very races, including a sixth place in the Fleche Wallonne. He capped his year by winning the 14th stage of the Tour de France atop the Plateau de Beille, not bad for his very first pro win.
Van den Broeck's “absolute goal” this year is the Tour de France. “A place in the top five on my dream course would be great.” After suffering a collapsed lung, two broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade on the ninth stage of the 2011 Tour, he went on to finish eighth overall at the Vuelta a Espana.
The team features 10 newcomers this year, including veterans Lars Bak, Greg Henderson and Gianni Meersman. The most exotic addition to the team is Iranian sprinter Mehdi Sohrabi.