For Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia we have a look at the squad in red, Lotto-Soudal. And what’s not to like, with the big German sprinter Andre Greipel, and Australian record-breaker Adam Hansen.
Who are their sponsors?
Lotto are the Belgian national lottery, while Soudal is a Belgian manufacturer of adhesives used in building silicones, caulks and the like. They also sponsor a women’s team at the highest level of the sport, Lotto-Soudal Ladies. Neither are the richest in cycling, but they have a tendency to punch above their weight in terms of results.
Rider for today’s stage
Andre Greipel is one of the best sprinters in the peloton, having won ten stages of the Tour de France among 74 professional victories since he joined Lotto in 2011.
After beginning his season at the Tour Down Under – where he’s won a record 16 stages – for much of his career, last year the German star opted to start a month later in the hopes of arriving at the first two Grand Tours in better form, reportedly on the advice of Robbie McEwen, who used to structure his seasons the same way.
It certainly worked, as Greipel took one stage win at the Giro and four at the Tour, beating the likes of Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Giacomo Nizzolo, Elia Viviani and Sacha Modolo in the process.
Greipel is following the same plan this year, which will see him ride the first week of the Giro before resting and recuperating for the Tour. Unfortunately, he’s been unlucky with crashes this season, describing his spring thus far as “the worst since I started racing as a bike rider”.
Although he hasn’t factored in the race’s sprints so far, he’s a good bet for today’s long and lumpy stage from Praia a Mare to Benevento.
The hills in the first two-thirds of the 233 kilometres could put an end to the hopes of some of his sprint rivals like Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE), before a fast run into the finish, where Greipel’s endurance and strength should serve him well.
Domestique Adam Hansen is the only rider in the peloton to consistently ride the three Grand Tours of cycling – the Giro, Tour and Vuelta a España – in the same year.
The 2016 Giro will be his 14th consecutive Grand Tour, a remarkable achievement given how physically demanding each race is and how difficult recovery is.
The Aussie veteran is capable of hunting for his own stage wins as well – he won from an early breakaway on a rainy stage in 2014.
At least one stage win for Greipel, preferably more. Lotto-Soudal often ride aggressively and opportunistically, and would love to pick up a stage win from a breakaway or canny late attack. Look to Tim Wellens, Jurgen Roelandts or Jelle Vanendert to make that happen.
Reason to cheer
This is a team that races aggressively and tactically – they’re utterly unafraid to roll the dice late in a stage in the hopes of snagging a surprise win. Their retro-inspired bright red kit is one of the best in the peloton as well.
Reason to jeer
They’re a team well suited to the flatlands and lumpy finishes, so once the race reaches the high mountains in the third week of this year’s race, and Greipel takes his leave, it’s much less likely they’ll be a factor.