Lotto-Belisol invisible in opening Belgian races

It wasn't Lotto-Belisol's week in the Belgium races. The team was virtually invisible in the three events, not playing a role in any of them. The team "wasn't good enough” at Gent-Wevelgem, manager Marc Sergeant admitted, with Andre Greipel missing the break and lacking teammates to help him.

Things opened in Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. The team missed the break and its top finisher was 24th, three minutes down. Things were even worse on Friday at the E3 Prijs Vlaandern-Harelbeke, with Gert Dockx tops in 60th place, at 5:38.

“We put everything on Gent-Wevelgem,” team manager Herman Frison told Het Nieuwsblad last week. “Our team is struggling with many injuries, we are letting some riders rest and giving the young riders their chances in Dwar sdoor Vlaanderen and the E3 Harelbeke. Sunday is for Greipel and we will have a better team for the day.”

It didn't work out, though. Greipel missed the break and was therefore not around for the final sprint, having fallen back on the second climb of the Kemmelberg.

“Andre is very disappointed,” Sergeant said. “The first passage of the Kemmelberg went smoothly for Andre, the second was more difficult. Then there was the attack from Cancellara and Sagan and like Cavendish, he couldn't get back up front."

The German was also alone at that point, as his teammates had earlier fallen back. In fact his next teammate finished nearly eight minutes behind him. Greipel finished the race in 31st - 2:27 behind winner Tom Boonen of rival Belgian team Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

"The team was not good enough,” said Sergeant. "I know I repeat myself, but if you are missing guys like Bak and Roelandts, and Henderson is not yet his usual self, it is difficult. As a team we were not good in Wevelgem, but you must consider the circumstances. We did try to go in a breakaway, but it did not work.”

The team's next chances for a homeland win come this week with the Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde (March 27-29) and the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, April 1.

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