The Australian campaign of Lotto Belisol can’t be called anything but ‘successful’. The victory in the People’s Choice Classic (criterium) and three stages in the Tour Down Under showed that the team around sprinter André Greipel has laid a good foundation to build further up to the classics.
Sports director Herman Frison: “We couldn’t do much more than this. Only our goal to place one of our riders in the top ten didn’t succeed; Adam Hansen finished sixteenth. But the way we rode here, showed Lotto Belisol and dominated the sprints, was impressive. A lot of people that were present here were enthusiastic about our performances. We didn’t lay the foundation of our successes in a few weeks time. We are working on this project for more than two years and since last year our train is on the rails. But each time we try to do better, refine every detail, we repeat a lot on training.”
“Apart from the sprint successes we have tried to get someone in the top ten. Tim Wellens had one off-day, but he’s only 21 years old. In the second stage he became fifth, but one day later – in a temperature of 45°C – he had to pass. Adam Hansen also had a top ten within his reach, and in the fifth stage Tim has sacrificed his chances for the team, but the final climb of Old Willunga Hill was a bit too steep for Adam to be able to claim a place in the top ten.”
“These three weeks in Australia are each time something special. It’ s the first WorldTour race of the season, the people here are on leave, it’s nice weather to race, the atmosphere is different from Europe. Some teams come to Australia only a few days before the start, but I choose to come as early as possible. That way there can be trained properly, we can adjust ourselves to the circumstances and that makes it an ideal teambuilding. The atmosphere is a bit looser than in Europe; we work when work has to be done, in the race we do our job for 100 percent, but apart from that it is pretty relaxed. It’s a matter of give and take, and of professionalism.”
“Each rider has his personal share in this success. But, don’t let us blow up this result. This was only the beginning, and that was successful; today we can definitely enjoy this, but from tomorrow on the focus is again on the next races, because the Belgian opening weekend will be there soon. Last year it went okay for a while here, but we lost Jürgen Roelandts, a bit later Lars Bak crashed and then the result in Australia was soon forgotten.”