Cadel Evans' decision to leave Silence-Lotto a year early came as a surprise to the Belgian team. “Nothing pointed in that direction,” said team manager Marc Sergeant.
Evans' manager Tony Rominger called Silence-Lotto sponsor chief Marc Coucke with the news at the end of last week. The team announced his departure Saturday.
Sergeant said that Evans had already created his 2010 season schedule with Directeur Sportif Roberto Damiani. “There was no signal. We had also signed the Spaniard Moreno to help him. Over the years, we tried to build up the team for the Grand Tours,” Sergeant told Sportwereld.be.
US-based BMC Racing Team announced Sunday that Evans had joined on a three-year contract.
Evans was able to break his contract with Silence-Lotto due to a clause inserted in it only last year. The clause allowed him out of the contract for a fee of one year's salary.
The relationship between Evans and Silence Lotto had deteriorated since the Tour de France this summer, according to Sportwereld. Coucke indicated that Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck would be a more worthy team captain in the future after Evans lost nearly 30 minutes on the 17th stage to Le Grand Bornand.
Evans also clashed with most people associated with the team and really only got along with DS Hendrik Redant and chiropractor David Bombeke after the Tour, according Sportwereld.
“You're not happy when you hear of such a transfer,” Coucke said. “Of course it is hard, but we have to continue.
“When Cadel Evans arrived with us, he was Mister Nobody.” He noted that Evans “will want to cash in on his [World Champion] rainbow jersey and he apparently got the chance to get a big raise.”
Van den Broeck will benefit from Evans' absence. He finished 15th in the Tour last year and could become the team's Tour de France captain. “Finding a replacement now for Cadel won't be easy,” he said. “I assume that I will have a different role. It makes me nervous.“
Van Den Broeck was mildly critical of Evans. “It is said that I learnt a lot from Cadel. They shouldn't exaggerate. I rode with him once, on the stage to the Sierra Nevada. That's it. I also know now to best prepare myself for a Grand Tour.”
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