Silence-Lotto trains in Portugal

Greg Van Avermaet is competitive and won the sprinter's jersey at the Vuelta last year

Greg Van Avermaet is competitive and won the sprinter's jersey at the Vuelta last year (Image credit: Unipublic)

Belgian team Silence Lotto trains currently in Albufeira, Portugal, and is very pleased with the training conditions. There is virtually no traffic and the weather is perfect, about 15 degrees centigrade and sunny skies.

Directeur Sportif Roberto Damiani was very pleased with the circumstances. "Ideal conditions for good work." The team has split ninto two groups. One was led by Gilbert, who is eying the Ardennes Classics. The group went out for five-hour long ride at a fast pace, according to La Dernière Heure. The other group with Greg van Avermaet, for the races in Flanders, stayed in the flatlands and for a slightly shorter period of time.

Damiani was quite amused about the lack of traffic. "When you go off the main roads you ask yourself if there isn't a problem here, as there is so little traffic." Dogs cause the only problems, with their sudden appearance out of nowhere and their desire to cross the road in front of a fast charging mini-peloton. Some of them are also rather aggressive. "It is the only problem here," said Michaël Delage. "There are dogs everywhere."

At the end the Flandrien group also gets to work on some climbing, up to Monchique. Jophan Vansummeren is the first to attack, halfway up. But Van Avermaet takes his wheel together with Staf Scheirlinckx. Van Avermaet shows he is getting ready for the Belgian races on a climb the group rode up at 450 watts, according to Vansummeren. Damiani was in admiration. "Greg was born with such a winner's mentality."

Leif Hoste was the last to react and join the front group. Hoste was testing his new bike from Canyon, according to Sportwereld. The Belgian plans to ride over the cobbles in the Ronde van Vlaanderen with the carbon-based bike. Most of the changes concern the frame, which is more flexible now. This absorbs the shocks from the pavé better. The same bike is an option in Paris-Roubaix.

Hoste will pull out all stops in a race where he finished second in 2007 to Alessandro Ballan and in 2006 to Tom Boonen.

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