The cobbled classics in Belgium are about to begin and yet again the Omega Pharma-Lotto team is under pressure after failing to win a race so far this season.
The Belgian team and the Eukaltel-Euskadi team are the only ProTour teams that are still without a win in 2010. According to Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure, of the 39 ProTour and Professional Continental teams, only eight have not won races so far this season. Omega Pharma-Lotto and BMC are the only major classics team that still lack a win.
Several Omega Pharma-Lotto riders have gone close to victory but there always seems to be another sprinter who beats them to the line. Jurgen Van den Broeck finished second twice in the Ruta del Sol, while Mickael Delage and Jurgen Roelandts were second on stages at the Volta ao Algarve. Team leader Philippe Gilbert tried an attack on the Poggio during Milan-San Remo, but is not a sprinter and finished ninth.
Last year Gilbert saved the team's season with a run of four consecutive victories, including the Tour of Lombardy, and Cadel Evans won the world title in Mendrisio. However, the Australian used a get-out clause in his contract to move to the new BMC team.
Former professional rider Nico Mattan believes the reasons for Omega Pharma's lack of victories is simple. Mattan will be providing his unique, entertaining but often blunt insight on the Spring classics for Cyclingnews.
"The problem for Omega Pharma is that they don't have any real winners in the team," he told Cyclingnews.
"They've got Philippe Gilbert, he's a star, but he's more for the hilly classics like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy. To be honest I don't think he'll ever win a cobbled classic like the Tour of Flanders.
"Leif Hoste has gone close to winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen three times but I can't see how he can ever win it either. It's the same for the other riders. If Jurgen Van den Broeck, Kenny Dehaes and Jurgen Roelandts aren't up there in the sprint at Milan-San Remo, I can't imagine they will be up there in the cobbled classics."
Omega Pharma-Lotto will be trying to break their duck on home roads on Wednesday at the Dwars door Vlaanderen. Their line-up includes Kenny Dehaes, Leif Hoste, Greg van Avermaert and Jurgen Roelandts.