LOT TONL : SMAL L BUD­GET, BIG HEARTS

Procycling - - REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2018 -

All the talk be­fore the Tour de France was of how Mo­vis­tar might use their strength in depth to un­der­mine Team Sky. The Span­ish team went to the Tour with three pos­si­ble lead­ers - Nairo Quin­tana, Mikel Landa and Ale­jan­dro Valverde. If they could be per­suaded to work co­he­sively (no small task), maybe they could put pres­sure on the Bri­tish team. In the end, Mo­vis­tar com­par­a­tively flopped and Lot­toNL-Jumbo were the only team to re­ally try to beat Sky tac­ti­cally. Tom Du­moulin, Sun­web’s run­ner-up, tried to match them phys­i­cally, but Lot­toNL were acutely aware of their strengths and used them very clev­erly.

First off, they made the Tour a suc­cess when Dy­lan Groe­newe­gen won two sprint stages. Then they used their se­cond-strong­est rider, Steven Krui­jswijk, as an ef­fec­tive moun­tain de­coy while their strong­est, Primo Roglic, marked the other favourites. Nowhere was this more ef­fec­tive than on the Alpe d’Huez stage, where Krui­jswijk at­tacked a long way out and built a six-minute lead, enough to put him into the vir­tual race lead. He was only caught to­wards the top of the Alpe, and Roglic was still with the lead­ers. Then, at Laruns in the Pyre­nees, the Dutch team worked very hard and put Roglic into a po­si­tion to both win the stage and move into third over­all, though he faded to fourth in the time trial. With a small bud­get, Lot­toNL punched well above their weight at the Tour and were the most ex­cit­ing team in the race.

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