By Susan Westemeyer
Team Milram's Gerry Van Gerwen wasn't satisfied with his team's performance in the Hel van het Mergelland on Saturday. His disappointment saw the director make a last-minute change in the Gent-Wevelgem line-up, pulling most of the Mergelland riders who had been scheduled to ride.
"After two-thirds of the race, the whole team was out of the race," Van Gerwen told Cyclingnews. "When riders present themselves in a race as part of our team did Saturday in the Netherlands, then they need to re-think not only their own performance but also their whole attitude toward their profession.
"We are happy to give one or the other of them time now to do that," he said, referring to the rider's exclusion from the Gent-Wevelgem roster.
Van Gerwen said the move should be taken as a wake-up call to the riders. "I had to give a signal to the team, say, hello, that is not the way to do it," he explained. "It belongs to my role that when things are going well, I tell them that. And when things are going wrong, as in this case, I have to say that, too.
"I have to respect my sponsor, the organisers, the public, everyone," he added. "I have to give this signal for them, and therefore I decided to change the Gent-Wevelgem line-up."
Van Gerwen has no regrets over making the criticism of his rider public. Rather than discussing it privately with the individuals, Van Gerwen issued the criticism in a press release announcing the team's Gent-Wevelgem roster.
"Why not? Why not?" he said. "I did it because we changed our line-up at the last moment and I think everyone has a right to know why."
Van Gerwen had earlier indicated that his criticism did not apply to star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who was returning to racing after recovering from an illness.