Victor Campenaerts has defended his Lotto-Soudal team after Sir Bradley Wiggins criticised the outfit for missing out on a stage win due to an error.
Campenaerts looked to have won the stage nine time trial at the Giro d’Italia, despite a botched bike change after suffering a mechanical on the final climb.
But when overall favourite Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) stole the stage win by 11 seconds, questions were raised about the disastrous moment for Campenaerts which may have cost the Belgian the win.
One of those to criticise Lotto-Soudal is 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, who said the team were “stuck in the dark ages in some ways.”
Responding to Wiggins’ comments, Campenaerts told Belgian sports broadcaster Sporza: “I read and saw [what he said]. What can I say about it?
“I think he hasn’t seen the team here and how we set the Hour Record.
“We may indeed look more like a traditional team, but a lot of progress has been made, certainly in terms of time trial since my arrival.
“The Hour Record was perfect proof of that.”
Last month Campenaerts, 27, broke Wiggins’ 2015 World Hour Record on the track in Aguascalientes, Mexico, going 563 metres further.
Campenaerts carried that form into the Giro d’Italia where he has been chasing glory in one of the three time trials in the 2019 edition.
His closest effort came on stage nine, when he missed out to Roglič after slipping a chain on the final climb.
Campenaerts switched from his time trial bike to his road bike after the mechanical, but the bike was left in the hardest gear and the team mechanic didn’t push his rider back up to speed.
Instead Campenaerts struggled to clip in and had to be pushed by a fan, potentially costing him the valuable seconds the took the win away.
Wiggins, speaking on his podcast The Bradley Wiggins Show by Eurosport, said: “The mistake came because it was in a 53-11. If that was planned, the mistake came because the mechanic should have put the gear down ready for him to ride.
“And the mechanic wasn’t really helping, it was a big mess. I think he’s lost the stage because of it.
“It was a cock-up in no uncertain terms and Lotto have lost another stage win.
“A team like Lotto you can imagine them being really disorganised on days like this and it’s cost them the stage win.
“He deserves better than that because he was the pre-race favourite.
“Lotto are stuck in the dark ages in some ways.
“You don’t £10 million to be organised and make sure the gear is in the right place. They’re simple things.”
But Campenaerts doesn’t seem too phased by Wiggins’ criticism of the team, adding: “It certainly flatters me that I appear in his podcasts several times.
“Bradley is a bit of an idol of mine anyway.”
Campenaerts’ contract ends at the close of 2019, but the time trial specialist said he will focus on the Giro before considering his future.