The start of the season has been difficult for the Omega Pharma-Lotto team. The arrival of Philippe Gilbert in 2010 took away a lot of pressure on the other riders and with the arrival of sprinter André Greipel this year, the Belgian team hoped to get the wins flowing early on in the season. But for now things aren't quite working out that way.
In the Tour Down Under Greipel came close to victory several times but always came up short. In the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, Gilbert and Greipel both racked up wins but the team has been quiet elsewhere.
During the opening weekend of racing in Belgium, the team disappointed again. Gilbert was unable to go with the other favourites on Saturday and he admitted that he simply wasn't good enough. Only lieutenant Jurgen Roelandts was up there in the finale but finished ninth.
Gilbert quickly headed back to Monaco to prepare for the Spring Classics after Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, so the pressure was on Greipel to clinch the win on Sunday at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. The Belgian team worked very hard to set-up Greipel for the sprint but the German finished third behind Chris Sutton (Team Sky) and Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ).
His Omega Pharma-Lotto teammates seemed tired and out numbered in the finale as they tried to create the kind of lead out train that Greipel often enjoyed during his days at the HTC-Columbia team.
“There was no lead-out,” Greipel told Cyclingnews immediately after the finish on Sunday.
Marcel Sieberg tried to get his compatriot in a great position for the sprint but after the last left-hand corner at 800 metres from the finish line, he was spotted desperately searching for Greipel.
“The team did a great job but I lost the wheel in the last corner so I had to go from 800 metres to 300 metres on my own to get to the front again. Then I nearly got it but I was just unlucky,” Greipel said.
By the time Greipel got to the front, Team Sky was in control and perfectly lead out the sprint for Chris Sutton. Greipel had a go but ran out of power and speed and finished third.
Omega Pharma-Lotto will now be hoping that stage race leader Jurgen Van den Broeck can get the team a major result in next week’s Paris-Nice.