Chris Horner, the American rider of the Davitamon-Lotto team was the one to make great publicity for his team during the last spring classic of the season.
He was in the picture on La Redoute and also made the group of twelve which contained all favourites for the win. "But at that moment, I knew that it was a no-win situation already," Horner told Sportwereld. "With all those fast men in there, there wasn't a possibility for me to win. I should have tried earlier. I'm sorry I didn't accompany Boogerd and Rodriguez on the Côte de Sprimont. But yeh, although I tried it almost everywhere, I couldn't keep jumping with everything and everybody, could I? This is a classic of 262km!
"I am happy about how my form is and the possibilities offered to me by the team management. I feel good in this team."
Team manager Marc Sergeant on the other hand doesn't feel that good after assessing his team's performance so far in the 2006 season.
"We missed out on the prizes. We do lack a few guys who can finish things of, a scoring forward line. And yes, it's only good if you win."
Before the Ronde Van Vlaanderen the team's main sponsor Marc Coucke burdened the riders with a lot of pressure. Too little real racing by his riders, and that wasn't to his liking. Although Van Petegem finished a decent fourth in the Ronde, and obtained a third place in Paris-Roubaix - if it weren't for the disqualification - the results aren't regarded as good enough for the Belgian Pro Tour team.
"Every balance without a registered win isn't good." Sergeant told HLN. "Van Petegem was there for his races, but he was never in the running for the victory. In Amstel we saw Leukemans, but he wasn't good enough. And in Liege, we sprinted for the win for the first time with Horner."
"It all went too stiff. The riders were all sitting in the bus, disappointed. They know themselves that it wasn't good. It's true what they say about the winning mood: one victory - like Mattan last year in Gent-Wevelgem - would have set us free. But now everyone was just thinking "we have to, we have to" but it doesn't work at all.
While the team sponsor and manager are completing the revision of the start of season performances, part of the team can save the furniture in the Tour of Romandie starting tomorrow. With a strong line-up in this stage race, the bad spring classics period might soon be forgotten. Robbie McEwen will be aiming for sprint victories, while Cadel Evans more than likely will be getting the opportunity to improve on his less-than-expected performance of the last week by going for the overall. Chris Horner, Mario Aerts, Bart Dockx, Bert Roesems, Wim Vanhuffel and Johan Vansummeren make up the rest of the team.
Courtesy Sabine Sunderland
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