Coucke impressed

Omega Pharma boss Marc Coucke, sponsor of Davitamon-Lotto, has given the team lavish praise in his column on the Davitamon-Lotto website. Star sprinter Robbie McEwen's three stage wins have been quite noticeable of course, but there are a few other riders who have caught Coucke's attention. "Then came the mountains, and again there were a lot of orange shirts to be seen at the front," wrote Coucke. "When we negotiated our co-operation with co-sponsor Brustor at the end of 2004, we offered them publicity on the back of the shorts. We argued that this would offer enormous visibility during the mountain stages. They wondered if the riders would still be in the picture. I feel that Brustor is happy about following our suggestion...

"Especially the achievement of Wim Van Huffel today [Thursday] is noteworthy. Before the season I had asked all team directors which young rider would progress most, and Herman [Frison] surprised me with the prediction: Van Huffel.

"We are already thinking about next year. The code-word is continuity; never change etc... Wim De Vocht's contract was opened up, and next week we hope to get things settled with Nico. Nico wants a two-year contract, and since he has had us cheering this spring, we will try and realize his wishes within the budgetary possibilities, because Nico deserves that. In 2006 we are going to try and reinforce the team, but there won't be any big names joining us, we want to keep enough room for the youth to present themselves even more."

Davitamon-Lotto's sports director Herman Frison knew for two years that Van Huffel has had the talent. Frison, currently with his riders at the Giro, told the Belgian VUM papers that he's anticipating a bright future for Van Huffel:

"I saw him in the Tour de L'Avenir, riding for the Vlaanderen team. It's not a coincidence that Wim was the first rider to sign for the new team Davitamon-Lotto. We believe in him. Particularly because this is his first big tour. Everything is new to him. Wim's 6th place today was great, but he has to keep both feet on the ground. He still needs to work a bit on the time-trialling, but his 58th spot last Sunday wasn't that bad. Today's is a fantastic result, but Wim's not there yet. Let me put it this way: Van Huffel can start to realize that a nice future is calling.

"With [Johan] Vansummeren, although he's still young, we have another promising element." concluded Frison.

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