By Anthony Tan
"Pretty average," was how Irish road champion David O'Loughlin described his performance over the last few weeks. Since his Navigators Insurance team arrived on the continent after the Tour of California for their first of two European campaigns, the American-based Pro Continental team has enjoyed little success, but then again, they're up against the world's best at the peak of their form.
"Yeah, we've done a pretty good program, so it's tough racing this time of year in Belgium - you're racing against the best guys in the world, so... there's no place to hide," said O'Loughlin to Cyclingnews.
While half the squad have ridden events like the Three Days of West Vlaanderen and Nokere-Koerse before moving to Germany next week to compete at the Rund um Köln and Rund um den Henninger Turm Frankfurt, another part of the team will race the Tour of Georgia until they regroup in early May. Navigators will then return back in August for a second stint in Europe to race the autumn classics, many of which are in Italy; a totally different style and ball-game, but equally difficult.
So how does it feel for this 27 year-old from Cong, County Mayo in the west of Ireland to be up against some of the most formidable teams in the world - would intimidating be a good choice of word?
"Oh, not really intimidating," smiled O'Loughlin, "but it's... a challenge - no doubt about it!"