2013 Team Previews: Lotto-Belisol

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Who are the sponsor? Lotto is the Belgian national lottery, Belisol make windows and doors in Belgium.

Nationality: Belgian

2012 Ranking: 11th

Past Stars: Cadel Evans, Philippe Gilbert, Robbie McEwen, Chris Horner

Selected Team Palmares: Stages, Tour de France, (Andre Greipel x 4, 2011, 2012×3, Jelle Vanendert, 2011), Stages, Giro d’Italia (Andre Greipel x 2, 2008, 2010, Bart de Clerq, 2011, Lars Bak, 2012), Stages, Vuelta a Espana (Andre Greipel x4, 2009×4) Tour down Under 2008+2010 (Andre Greipel)

Brief Team History: The Lotto boys have been around since 1985, and in recent years, where characterised by an Australian core – Robbie McEwen, who took a couple of his green jerseys at the Belgian outfit, and Cadel Evans, who came to the squad after the T-Mobile experiment fell through. At the time, Lotto were sponsored by Omega Pharma, who marketed their products as the team name, so we thus has Davitamon-Lotto, (vitamins), Predictor-Lotto (Pregnancy tests) and Silence-Lotto (sleeping pills) for the team. When Cadel Evans won the Worlds, the company seemed to spot a chance, and promptly announced the team would be called Omega Pharma from the next year, obviously sensing that having ‘Omega Pharma’ on the world champions jersey would be a good marketing coup. Unfortunately, it never happenned, as Evans left for BMC, and they had to ;make do’ with the HTC second string sprint train joining. Luckily, it turned out Greipel and co were pretty good, but not as good as new prized possession Philippe Gilbert, who was fantastic for them in 2011. Unfortunately, he too jumped ship to BMC, and then in a move to make the sport very confusing for casual viewers, Omega Pharma themselves jumped ship to rivals Quick Step, citing ‘differences of direction’ as both teams claimed they wanted to produce a ‘Belgian cycling project with international appeal’. Hmm. Still, now built behind Van den Broeck and Greipel, the newly named Lotto-Belisol had high hopes for 2012.

Last year: Andre Greipel was the stalwart of the squad, delivering 18 wins throughout the year, including three at the Tour de France, where he beat Cavendish and Sagan and was arguably Cavendish’s closest rival. Van den Broeck joined forces with Nibali and Rolland to attack Wiggins at the Tour and was rewarded with another 4th place, then bombed a bit at the Vuelta, withdrawing with fatigue. The team were absent from old hunting ground the classics, preferring to take opportunistic wins and support Greipel.

Greipel ran up victories for the team in 2012
Greipel ran up victories for the team in 2012

Transfer dealings: Nothing to report really, except the snatching of Gianni Meersman from under their noses by OPQS when their ProTeam license was delayed. Apart from that, the team is essentially as it was.

Who are the star riders? Sprinter Andre Greipel delivers the majority of the wins, as well as being a powerhouse in the spring classics when needed. The parts of the team not built around delivering him to the line are built around GC man Jurgen Van den Broeck, who has key mountain lieutenant Jelle Vanendert to rely on when the going gets tough. The rest of the team is mainly the opportunistic barodeurs, such as classics man Lars Bak, Bart de Clerq and Jurgen Roelandts, who can sprint, climb and time trial pretty well.

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Fashion Police: Lotto’s asymmetric kit of 2012 was lovely, but unfortunately, the have a new sponsor, Telenet, who require them to have a yellow shoulder patch that looks out of place. The oversized Lotto logo on the shorts remains though, which is excellent, as does the purple colourway.

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What are their targets? More of the same really – Greipel will keep going for stage wins at the Tour, although he says he’ll only go for Green if he rides into it, not targeting it specifically – sorry sprinters, but the green jersey is a pretty big prize. When people scan the record books, they wont see who has won three stages – they’ll see the green jersey winner. It’s odd that few riders are directly targeting the competition now, but Lotto seem happy to get stages instead. Van den Broeck will want to move up a place onto the podium for the 2013 Tour, whilst everyone else will just keep plucking away as usual. Greipel has targeted Milan-San Remo as well, having had a late introduction to the race as a result of being blocked whilst at HTC due to Cavendish.

What are they likely to achieve? Greipel should keep delivering big, but whether he can get three stages in the Tour again is anyone’s guess. He will fancy his chances at taking yellow in Corsica however, especially as he seems to get over hills better than Cavendish, which might also be to his advantage if Milan-San Remo comes down to a sprint. Van den Broeck will probably come 4th, or 5th, at the Tour, although I’d very much like to see him on the podium, as he’s one of the few riders who seems to realise you do actually need to attack at some point.

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Components: Lotto ride Ridley bikes, and use Campagnolo and Deda components, which makes them very Euro, as does their Lazer helmets and Vermarc kit.

The Big Question(s): Can Van den Broeck get onto the Tour podium? Can Greipel feature in Milan San-Remo?

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