Silence-Lotto Directeur Sportif Marc Sergeant has indicated that his team may cut several early season races from the team's 2010 programme in order to ease the racing load on some of its riders.
Sergeant made the comments to Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad, as the newspaper reported Silence-Lotto's Christophe Brandt and Olivier Kaisen had topped a list of rider's race-kilometre totals for the 2009 season. Over 102 days of racing, Brandt covered 16,641 kilometres, compared to Kaisen's 103 day and 16,348 kilometre totals. Their teammate, Philippe Gilbert, was fourth on the list with 15,987 kilometres, through 97 days of racing.
"We [could] cut some smaller foreign competitions such as [February's Etoile de] Bessèges, [February's Giro della Provincia di] Grosseto, [March's] Coppi e Bartali... it would create space for some additional rest and training camps during the season," Sergeant told the newspaper.
"It's a necessary step, because it is part of modern cycling. Look at [Edvald] Boasson Hagen: The first time I saw him race this year was at Gent-Wevelgem, but he won the race," he continued.
The team director indicated that a traditional Belgian approach to racing accounted for his rider's representation high in the list. While he feels there is a need to re-evaluate this mentality, he was quick to point out that it was an approach that does work for some riders.
"It's in our cycling culture; If a Belgian doesn't race for two weeks, he thinks, 'oh dear, what now?' I don't think that this is always the right response. Actually, I think we race too much," said Sergeant.
"Although, we must keep in mind the men on these lists have not necessarily performed badly; Philippe Gilbert is an example. But for others, like [Greg] Van Avermaet [14,681 in 89 days of racing – ed], in 2009 it was a little too much."
Second on the Het Nieuwsblad list, Oliver Kaisen said that despite a long season he had held his form consistently throughout the year. He feels the layout of the season contributes to the Belgian riders' traditional longevity.
"I think Belgians always will have a long season," said Kaisen. "For us, the Spring Classics are very important, and therefore most Belgians peak earlier than most of the peloton. Foreigners can afford to focus on the Tour [de France], but we must race from February to October."
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