Another race, another missed opportunity and Omega Pharma-Lotto are still looking for their first win of the season after Gent-Wevelgem. However team boss Marc Sergeant isn’t about to push the panic button yet, although he admitted that the team will need a competitive sprinter for next season.
Today Lotto had two men in the final break, with Philippe Gilbert and Jurgen Roelandts making the final selection of favourites. However with Roelandts struggling and a flat final 30 kilometres in which Gilbert had no opportunity to attack, the chances of the Belgian team winning were slim. Gilbert eventually claimed third, but with the season almost a third in, everyone in today’s press room was beginning to ask the question, just when will they win a race?
“We had two guys in the front, but Roelandts told me with 12km to go that he had nothing left and they were going 60 kilometres per-hour in the last hour, so there was no where for Gilbert to attack and Eisel was too quick,” Sergeant said at the finish.
“Look, there’s always pressure. We try to work as professionally as we can. At the beginning of the season we had three or four training camps and we did everything we could, now it’s the riders who have to ride.”
“You, the journalists and the man in the street point and say no wins but we knew that in advance and if you don’t have a fast sprinter… We don’t want to burst Gilbert by making him win a stage in Paris Nice. He has to prepare himself for the Classics because that’s where he wants to be good.”
As for the morale of the team, Sergeant suggest that all wasn’t well, but that the management were doing their bit to help raise spirits.
“Everyone was a bit depressed especially after yesterday, so we tried to laugh it off. That was only way to deal with it, they knew it wasn’t good. We have to work for the next race.”
That next race is Flanders, where Gilbert will have the perfect terrain to claim that elusive win for the team. However, he’ll have to beat riders like Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, and Juan Antonio Flecha, and although he has the talent, a victory is certainly not a done deal.
“You needed a fast sprinter in the fast group, but Flanders will be a different story and there Gilbert will have the things he needs, cobbles, more climbs and more distance. Here it was like a carpet at the end.
“Cancellara was very strong yesterday (Saturday), he was so impressive. Boonen is good, Flecha too, so there are lots of guys that are good. So if you put those guys together in the last 60 kilometres at Flanders it’s going to be fireworks. Nice for cycling, isn’t it?”
Sergeant is already looking at strengthening the team in the winter, and will be hoping to sign a top-level sprinter, although he wouldn’t be drawn on any names. “We need for sure, one very fast guy because that takes some pressure and guarantees you some wins. Even a win in Algarve, or Qatar or Oman, it’s a win. But we’ll look back over things after Liege. If we have one win by then and it’s a big win then everyone will forget.”