By Paul Verkuylen
Last year Predictor Lotto enjoyed one of their best ever seasons. Cadel Evans was second overall in the Tour de France and the team picked up two stage wins along the way courtesy of Robbie McEwen (stage one) and Evans (individual time trial). Evans placed fourth in the Vuelta and sixth in Lombardy before going onto win the overall ProTour title, while Leif Hoste finished second for the third time in Belgium's biggest one day event, the Tour of Flanders. Like last year the team was presented in Hasselt during the Lotto six day track race.
This year the team has changed names - with Predictor's sister company, Silence taking over naming rights - to become Silence-Lotto. The focus of the team has changed somewhat as well. For the first time ever, Cadel Evans will have the entire team dedicated to him during the Tour de France, while McEwen will have to look after himself more in the sprints and the fight for the green jersey.
That's not to say the team is forgetting its roots in the Spring classics. Hoste will once again focus his energies on the early season, with the hope of losing his eternal second label in Flanders.
"Every year we say that we are capable of winning a really big race. But until now it we have been unable to deliver." explained Marc Coucke, CEO of the main sponsor, Omega Pharma to Belgian news website HLN.be. "This year we are going for it, in the classics and the tour. And I promise you that if we win, the Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix, or the Tour de France, we will throw one of the biggest cycling parties Flanders has ever seen."
Read the full feature on Silence-Lotto team launch.