Mixed feelings among the Belgian team riders

"I cannot say if I can win on this course," said this year's second-place finisher Cadel Evans of...

"I cannot say if I can win on this course," said this year's second-place finisher Cadel Evans of Belgian team Predictor-Lotto on hln.be. "The Pyrenees before the Alps makes no difference to me. I think the second part will be important for the GC. I will concentrate on the second part, like the majority of the GC riders. But you can lose the Tour in the first half. I found that out in the previous edition. I might have been able to win the Tour, who knows?" Evans applauded the lack of long transfers and said, "That is good for everyone. Riders, journalists, mechanics ...... that gives more time to rest. It is good for the quality of the competition."

"Lombardia went well and gave me just enough for the ProTour," continued Evans to Cyclingnews. "I was not able to win [the race] but for the ProTour classification, it was good. I will race the 2008 strictly for the win and not think of the 2008 ProTour classification.

"I don't think it changes much," he said of the lack of a prologue. "There will not be too many kilometres of time trialing, lots of climbs, no team trial and no prologue. There are 29 and 53 kilometre time trials – I will have to see the profile of those before we decide, but it looks to me to be more of a climbers' Tour."

Hendrik Redant, Sport Director at Predictor-Lotto, was not totally happy. "For a team with a sprinter [McEwen] and a captain for the GC [Evans], it will be complicated," he said. "The support riders will have a lot of work. We will have to rely on the work of other teams. The reduction of the number of time trial kilometers is a slight disadvantage for Evans."

His comments were echoed by Marc Sergeant, Lotto's team manager, who spoke to Sporza. He also called the reduced number of time trial kilometers a disadvantage and noted that "Because there is no prologue and because of the win in Brittany, I expect a nervous start. We must be attentive from the very start." He added, "The key to the Tour will lie in the last week, with the only really long time trial and the stage to Alpe d'Huez."

"With Evans, we have finished eighth, fifth and now second. Next year we want to win."

The lack of a prologue "is an advantage for Tom Boonen," said Quick.Step-Innergetic manager Patrick Lefevere, also on Sporza. "Whether the green jersey is really a goal for us next year is something we can't say at this point. We will have to look at the makeup of our team next year. But not only green is possible. In such an opening week you can hold on the yellow jersey for a long time. Because if you win the first stage, you will keep it for perhaps a week. But the opening can bring disappointment, too. Who can say how a mass sprint will turn out?"

"Our team is strong enough to put its stamp on the Tour," he concluded. "Steegmans has my trust, and Rosseler can go with an escape group."

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