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Silence/Lotto 2008 - “Everything On the Tour de France
 
By Bart Hazen
Date: 2/12/2008
Silence/Lotto 2008 - “Everything On the Tour de France
 

Silence/Lotto 2008 - “Everything On the Tour de France"
The ProTour team made their mission clear for 2008 at their presentation on Monday.

On February 11th the Belgian ProTour team Silence-Lotto introduced itself at their annual team presentation. The team presentation was in the Ethias Arena in Hasselt - earlier in the day before the fifth day of the Lotto 6-days of Hasselt (Track).

Leaders of the team
The team has indicated five riders who will have the stature as leaders for the team in the more important races this year. These five riders are Cadel Evans, Leif Hoste, Robbie McEwen, Yaroslav Popovych and youngster Greg van Avermaet. The others members of the team will have opportunities to hunt for their own success as well; but in the important races they will have to ride for the goal of the team.

Team Silence/Lotto Main Goals in 2008
The main goals of the Silence-Lotto team, (who has a budget of 7.5 million euros), for 2008 are Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France. In these races the team will count on the talents and experience of leaders: Leif Hoste in the Classics and Cadel Evans in the Tour de France.

Sport-director Marc Sergeant summarized the ambitions of the team for 2008 very clearly commenting, “If we can change one of the second places of last year into a victory, our season will be very successful."


Cadel Evans - Focus on a 2008 tour victory. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Cadel Evans “Everything on the Tour”
With Cadel Evans the Silence-Lotto team had the number two finisher in the 2007 Tour de France. Evans lost that Tour to Alberto Contador by twenty seconds. According to Cadel he lost last year's race in the stage to Loudenville where Yaroslav Popovych pulled hard for Contador, (this year 'Popo' will be the main support rider for Evans in the mountains).

In 2008 the Tour de France will again be the main goal of Cadel Evans. He will get the support of Yaroslav Popovych after the departure of Chris Horner and Josep Jufre to respectively Astana and Saunier Duval. Evans said that he will try to make the difference in the time-trial, but realizes the amount of time-trial kilometers is limited. “I will try to take advantage of the weak moments and mistakes of others”, said Evans.

Evans sees Contador as his biggest rival for the maillot jaune; but realizes that it’s still unsure if Astana will be allowed to start. Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov must not be underestimating either. It would be a pity for Evans and Lotto if Astana is not allowed to start "...because then our team will get more pressure on their shoulders."

Evans will start his season next week in the Ruta del Sol. His first “big appointment” will be Paris-Nice in March.


Newcomer to Silence/Lotto - Volodymir Bileka came with Popovych from Discovery Channel. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Yaroslav Popovych “Everything for Cadel in the Tour”
Yaroslav Popovych has ridden for one of the best teams in the World the last three years, namely Discovery Channel. Popovych knows what it takes to win the Tour de France as a team member as was on the winning team twice with Lance Armstrong (2005) and Alberto Contador (2007).


Yaroslav Popovych does an interview after the presentation.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

After the withdrawal of Discovery Channel Yaroslav Popovych signed a contract with Silence-Lotto, where he will be the co-leader of the team with Cadel Evans at the Tour. According to Popovych, Cadel will be the only leader in the team and has pledged his support  and do everything he can to help him win the race in July.

Leif Hoste “Focus on Flanders and Roubaix”
Last year Leif Hoste was very unlucky in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in which he finished twice in second place behind respectively, Lampre's Alessandro Ballan and CSC's Stuart O’Grady.


Leif Hoste dreams of Flanders and Roubaix. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

In 2008 the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Hoste returns with both as his main targets for victory. Hoste has finished second three times in the Tour of Flanders and hopes to win the race and add it to his palmares this year. Hoste would also like to get rid of his nickname “the Flemish Raymond Poulidor”

Robbie McEwen “Finding my own way”
Robbie McEwen is still one of the fastest men in the bunch. McEwen has over 170 pro victories in his 12 year pro career, starting with Rabobank in 1996 and with Lotto and its previous named teams since 2000. Robbie can count among these victories, stage wins at the Giro d'Italia and the Tour where he took home the Maillot Vert as sprint points leader three times - 2002, 2004, & 2006.


The one and only "Rockin" Robbie McEwen explains his goals for 2008.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

This year he will return again to the Tour de France; but realizes that he has to find his own way in the sprints; which he often is more capable of doing, weaving his way through sprinter's trains at the finish with lightning like reaction time to find the hole leading to the finish line for victory. The main goal of the team is to win the Tour de France so there will be actually 8 (Cadel + seven helpers) + 1 rider McEwen seeking stage wins and sprint points. The 35 year old rider from Brisbane, Australia still hopes to win a stage or two at the Tour. It would be nice as well to win the green jersey for the fourth time in his career. In the mountain stages he is willing to support Cadel Evans and to get water bottles or what is required to help his fellow countryman be the first Australian to wear yellow in Paris.


Tour of Poland 2007 winner Johan Vansummeren returns to the team.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Previous to the Tour de France the main goal of Robbie McEwen will be the Milan-SanRemo (The Primavera). He wants to show himself in this race and will prepare to be in peak form for the Italian classic. Last year he finished in fourth after a crash 55km from the finish. Robbie’s contract will expire at the end of this season. At this point he hasn't talked with Silence-Lotto to extend his contract; but he hopes he can stay with the team in 2009 -  “I hope to race for at least one or maybe two more years," commented Robbie.

Greg van Avermaet “To do better then last year”
22 year old Greg van Avermaet is a promising young talent from Lokeren, Belgium. Last year, as a neo-pro, he had an impressive ProTour debut season with 5 victories including a stage win in Qatar, a stage in the Region Wallonne, Rund um die Hainleite and the Memorial Rik van Steenbergen.


Thinking ahead - Greg van Avermaet.   Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Due to the above results van Avermaet will be one of the five main riders of the team, but Van Avermaet still doesn’t see himself as a real “leader”. “I hope that I will get a protected role in some races and it depends on how the race develops if I can win the race or not”.  ”My goal for this season is to do better then last year. Further I will ride a tougher program and hope to show myself and make a step forward in my career again”

Van Avermaet will start in among others Paris-Nice and will support Leif Hoste in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.


Gorik Gardeyn comes to the team from Unibet. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Newcomers to Silence/Lotto Squad
Including the five main riders, the team will give the opportunity to lots of young talents like the newcomers Francis de Greef, Pieter Jacobs and Jurgen Roelandts. Roelandts showed his potential already this year by finishing fifth in the final classification of the Tour de Qatar in his first race as a professional.

Other newcomers in the team are Volodymir Bileka who joined the team as a friend of Popovych, Glenn D’Hollander, veteran coming from Chocolade Jacques and brother-in-law of Greg van Avermaet, Gorik Gardeyn and Maarten Tjallingii. Gardeyn is coming from Unibet.com and Maarten Tjallingii from Skil-Shimano.

The 2008 Silence-Lotto Team
Returning Riders:
Mario Aerts (Bel)
Christophe Brandt (Bel)
Dario Cioni (Ita)
Dominique Cornu (Bel)
Wim De Vocht (Bel)
Dries Devenyns (Bel)
Bart Dockx (Bel)
Cadel Evans (Aus)
Nick Gates (Aus)
Leif Hoste (Bel)
Olivier Kaisen (Bel)
Matthew Lloyd (Aus)
Robbie McEwen (Aus)
Bert Roesems (Bel)
Roy Sentjens (Bel)
Geert Steurs (Bel)
Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)
Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel)
Wim Van Huffel (Bel)
Wim Vansevenant (Bel)
Johan Vansummeren (Bel)


Wim Vansevenant - Only one man can win the tour, and only one can take the honors as the Lanterne Rouge as Wim Vansevenant did as the final survivor of the 2007 Tour de France. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen


Francis De Greef     Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

New to the team - country/former team
Volodymir Bileka (Ukr – Discovery Channel)
Glenn D’Hollander (Bel – Chocolade Jacques)
Francis De Greef (Bel - Davitamon - Win For Life - Jong Vlaanderen)
Gorik Gardeyn (Bel – Unibet.com)
Pieter Jacobs (Bel – Unibet.com)
Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr – Discovery Channel)
Jurgen Roelandts (Bel - Davitamon - Win For Life - Jong Vlaanderen)
Maarten Tjallingii (Ned – Skil-Shimano)
Stefano Zanini (Ita – ass. Sport-director Silence-Lotto)


Newcomers in the team Maarten Tjallingii & Jurgen Roelandts Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Leaving the team: country/new team
Chris Horner (Usa - Astana)
Nic Ingels (Bel – Topsport Vlaanderen)
Josep Jufre (Spa – Saunier Duval)
Pieter Mertens (Bel – Elite-2)
Fred Rodriguez (Usa – Rock Racing)
Tom Steels (Bel - Landbouwkrediet)
Preben Van Hecke (Bel – Topsport Vlaanderen)
Björn Leukemans (Bel - Suspended)

Silence/Lotto Team Presentation 2008 - Photo Gallery
More Photos of the Silence/Lotto Presentation.

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