Playing the Lotto

Oct 21 2009

evansI’ve been as thrilled as anyone by Philippe Gilbert’s late-season run. I think the Belgian has a great, positive style of racing that combines both tactics and straight-up guts. And like many others, I’m also thrilled to see Silence-Lotto score a couple of wins, after putting in a ton of effort and making a variety of races this season fun to watch.

But I’m not swayed by the notion that this is some sort of “new Beginning” for Silence-Lotto. Let’s not forget that Lotto put two riders in the final break of six at Roubaix this year, and was only derailed by Juan-Antonio Flecha’s crash. The tactics at Paris-Tours played very similarly to the rest of the classics, with Lotto and Quick.Step making probing attacks and putting a man in as many moves as possible. Not to take anything away from the Autumn Double, but luck plays as big a role as anything in the one-days.

As for Lotto’s performance supporting Cadel Evans in the Grand Tours, I think it’s been pretty miserable. Everyone remembers the bumbling wheel change that might have cost the Aussie the race, but no one seems to remember that Evans never should have been so isolated in the first place. Jurgen Van Den Broeck was on career form at this year’s Tour, and burned off most of it up the road in early breaks—not the kind of teamwork that regularly puts riders in Yellow.

Cadel’s biggest win—the World Championships—had absolutely jack-all to do with Silence Lotto. Not only was Evans riding on an Australian National team that contained no one else from his Belgian trade squad, but he also profited immeasurably from underdog status, as the Italian and Spaniard Squads battled to control the race.

The timing and determination of his attack, plus better-than-most support from his team is what brought Cadel the win at Mendrisio. While his support of the sponsorship is laudable, it’s almost disheartening to see Lotto flacking Evans’ gold medal as “their” accomplishment. More cycling commentators should go out of their way to point this out.

9 Responses to “Playing the Lotto”

  1. EDnl October 21, 2009 at 8:17 am #

    Right on. Still, Matty Lloyd from Silence-Lotto was on Cadel’s Aussie team.

    • cosmo October 21, 2009 at 10:34 am #

      Gah—only looked in the right-hand column on Wikipedia. It figures.

  2. John October 21, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    While i do tend to agree that the silence lotto cadel evans partnership is odd. I think cadel evans has set himself up for his best chance ever at the 2010 TDF.

    I dont think even silence lotto can now stick to their guns about having jurgen van den brock leading the team at the TDF as they’re main GC guy for years is the world champ, Also there is no dominant team anymore after the Astana break up and CSC split. Don’t even mention TRS, Lance Armstrong is going to be too old this time around and even if he is perfectly prepared, age will be his biggest problem, Cadel Evans had a horrible tour even before he gave up after losing a lot of time on stage 17 i think(the one after your 2nd tdf how the race was won) In your htrww, cadel evans easily outclimbed lance armstrong.

    If jurgen van den brock would actually help cadel evans in 2010, they might get somewhere, but for a guy that’s always had to do it with almost team support, even one support man in the form of jurgan van den brock could seriously help

  3. dano October 21, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    I agree, the marriage between Cadel Evans and the lotto team is an odd one at best. Originally built around stage sprint wins, the team has never been one to don a GC’r and Cadels tenure in this proves it. He is a talented rider, no doubt, but it simply brings out the absolute need for a team effort for one to podium at the end of a Tour. Which begs the point, what will Contador do without astana??????

  4. Joe October 21, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    Good points and thanks for the link!

    Lotto shilling Evans as a World Champion is pretty funny, and you can bet they’ll get their mileage out of this next year.

    As for the Classics, luck always plays a role, as it does in any race. In fact, I think you might argue there’s more of a role of luck in a Grand Tour where to win you must be consistently good and stay out of trouble for three straight weeks rather than a single day. But there’s nothing lucky about four major wins in a row, particularly since everyone in the field was watching Gilbert closely and knowing that he had fantastic form and would try to win. He was as marked a man as there is. Similarly, Quick Step’s annual spring run from 2004-2009 (and counting) can be chalked up as much to talent and killer instinct as luck.

    At Flanders, Hoste was just clean out-sprinted by Ballan in 2007 (he said later his team had worked perfectly) and in 2006 by Boonen. Both times he had the misfortune to get in the winning move with a better sprinter, which is bad luck. But neither time was he able to shake his co-agitator and take the win. Given two almost identical chances, Hoste didn’t manage to close the deal.

  5. Sebastian October 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    It really does beat me why Evans keeps re-signing to this squad . . . or why none of the strong squads currently lacking an obvious grand tour leader have tried to snatch him up. I think that Evans + HighRoad/Columbia circa two years ago would have = fantastic. They had a team stacked with strong but inexperienced riders who could have learned tons by riding for Evans at the TDF under the wise guidance of Bob Stapleton. Stapleton, meanwhile, would have known that Evans really only had a few years left as a contender, and could have grandfathered him out smoothly in favor of an EBH. (That was of course before the Cavendish train became the team’s top priority.)

  6. John October 21, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    biggest problem for hoste, is he can’t sprint at all, he needs to make a move on his own, the stijn devolder move as i’m now going to call it and attack over the 2nd one, whose name escapes me, you know what i’m talking about

    What’s funny is people have never really given Evans the credit he deserves, 2 2nd’s with no support at the TDF, should’ve had a 2nd at the giro this year if my subtraction is correct

    I dont know much about jurgen van den brock, but if he doesnt want to help cadel this year, i’m not going to like him much for the rest of his career, sorry jurgen you’re still too young, go for a stage win or two first

  7. Chris October 22, 2009 at 1:13 am #

    I wonder if seeing Cadel bust a gut for a team-mate in more than one race might help the lotto team get the idea of teamwork – and even get the idea that Evans is a guy worth working for.

  8. Carn Soaks September 25, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    A. Thank god he left, paying them back for farking up his attempts in Oh-seven and Oh-eight.
    B. They gave Yirgin Vanderbroken the green flag to ride for himself, thinking a fifth placed Belgian better than a first placed Aussie.
    C At Giro Di Lombardia, who rode lead-out up the final hill to setup Gillybear other than CADEL EVANS. Le Mondo-Juerne riding point, how legendary is that.
    D. His nickname is DIESEL POWERED DELI VANS

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