It might have taken them longer than any other WorldTour team, but LottoNL-Jumbo finally got their victory count off the mark for 2015 with Moreno Hofland’s victory on stage two of the Tour de Yorkshire.
The Dutch team, formerly known as Rabobank, Blanco and Belkin, hadn’t won since October 2014 when Hofland won stage one of the Tour of Hainan.
However with his stage win under grey skies and light squally showers in York, the Dutchman and his Dutch team finally got a monkey off their backs.
“After that [wait] the excitement of the win was even bigger,” Hofland said at the finish. “It was harder [to win after such a long time]… and I think you get more doubts about if you still can win. But that’s now gone.”
Hofland’s directeur sportif in Yorkshire, Nico Verhoeven, explained that the team had been well aware of the growing external pressure from the Dutch media. However, with Hofland and Robert Gesink both injured for the opening part of the season – and the team’s best results being four second places – the he said that the team never panicked.
“In the team meeting this morning I knew today was very important for us, but I didn’t say that we had to win because we’ve had zero wins,” he said. “We don’t have to make the pressure any higher, because that makes it harder for them [the riders] to win.
“The riders knew why we hadn’t won, or why it was hard,” he added. “The pressure was just from the media. It came from outside, the pressure, not the inside.”
Hofland, who is named after Moreno Argentin and has a brother called Fausto after Fausto Coppi, had a broad smile on his face outside the LottoNL-Jumbo bus at York Racecourse. After signing a few autographs for some excited young fans – who thought he was named after Chelsea FC manager José Mourinho – he returned to the team hotel for a well earned celebration.
“I think that I and the team really needed this,” he said. “We’ll look for a good bottle of wine or champagne tonight. I think you have enough beer over here too.”