OPQS is prepared to defend its two-time champion status at the UCI World TTT Championship, which takes place on Sunday in Ponferrada.
Tony Martin, Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra, Michal Kwiatkowski, Pieter Serry, and Julien Vermote will represent the team on the 57.1km parcours. There are three time checks at kilometer 13.5, kilometer 36.1, and kilometer 48.9 of the course. There are two climbs to ascend, the most difficult being 750m long at 8 percent average gradient.
The UCI World TTT Championship is in its third edition, meaning OPQS made history with the first championship and has a chance to be the only team to win a gold medal in the discipline if the team is victorious on Sunday. In 2012, OPQS won the 53.2km TTT in Valkenburg by 3.23 seconds with a time of 1:03.17, finishing with all six riders.
The second UCI World TTT Championship won by OPQS in 2013 was a nail biter. The difference between gold and silver was less than a second at the 57.2km course ending in Firenze. OPQS averaged 53.402 km/h and finished with a winning time of 1:04:16.81.
"I rode along the parcours three times, and when I saw it even the first time I was really happy about it," Martin, three-time UCI world TT Champion, said. "There are wide roads that aren't too dangerous. The first part is more or less easy it seems. The second time I rode the course, I noticed the second half of the parcours is where you cannot get a rhythm. It's rolling, but never really steep or long. Maybe that's the true danger. You think you can just go full gas everywhere and then in the end, you realize the power in the legs is missing in the last 15 minutes. So it's a course where you have to stay together and never over pace it. But overall it's a really nice course and I think we will have a good chance — especially because the course is not that easy to handle. We are that team that can handle a complex course the best. Because it's a TTT, you also have to stay focused in the corners. You have to think about your 5th or 6th person on a course like this and not just yourself, as you would in an individual time trial. So, with the profile of this course, it will be a course that requires us to work cohesively at all times to win tomorrow."
"I think that preparation for the Worlds TTT started from when it was announced," Sport & Development Manager Rolf Aldag said. "Since then, Koen Pelgrim and Tom Steels have been planning out the race. It was an early parcours visit this year for OPQS. Koen already checked the course, so we had an idea before we came. We chose our riders carefully and even had a reserve rider in Petr Vakoc. Equipment is ready, we have the technical support from all our partners. Now it's just about the legs and avoiding bad luck. We will do our best of course. Winning two times already, you are considered a favorite, like it or not. We will start last, so it gives you the chance to get intermediate checks before the start and time each section a little bit. But really it will be about clean technique on the bike and the horsepower of our riders, and we believe these riders have the horsepower. The parcours of this year is more technical than last year with more ups and downs and corners, but it's a very nice course. It's not really dangerous. I wouldn't say it's easy. It's not as technical as Valkenburg in 2012, but we already showed we are ready for the technical courses or the flat courses with our performances the past two years."
"It's wide, wide roads, and never really flat but a little up and down, up and down," Terpstra said. "So, it's a parcours where you really need horsepower and good teamwork. Then you can go really fast. There are some technical sections, but most of the time it's just full gas and the strongest team will win."
"I'm very happy I'm selected," Vermote said. "It's an honor to ride. I think I showed I am in good shape after doing a lot of work in the front and also winning a stage solo attacking out of a long breakaway. I'm thrilled to be here and I want to prove I was the right choice by helping the team tomorrow. This parcours is really fast and then a technical section, and the last part is big roads. I think we will need all six riders to ride as fast as possible also the last climb, then there's still 1.5km to go . So, our legs will be dead by the end of this team time trial. But we have a strong and well balanced team here, and we have to go full gas for this opportunity."more information
OPQS rider Michal Golas finished 3rd out of a small group, after a long day in the breakaway at 195.8km Primus Classic Impanis- Van Petegem on Saturday.
The initial breakaway of 10-riders was eventually down to a lead group of seven inside 18km to go, with an eight rider chase group behind including OPQS rider Gianni Meersman.
Only five riders were able to decide the final. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) won the small group sprint, with Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto-Belisol) 2nd and Golas 3rd.
Meersman finished 7th out of a group 11" behind the five riders.
Iljo Keisse crashed and was unable to finish the race.more information
OPQS announces the extension of contracts for Spanish rider Carlos Verona, and Slovak rider Martin Velits, for two more seasons (2015 & 2016).
Carlos Verona is a 21-year-old rider who just completed his first grand tour in his home country of Spain. He finished 9th in Stage 14, was in several breakaways, and was a valuable domestique for Rigoberto Uran. He was also 3rd in Tour de l'Ain Stage 4.
"I'm excited to be continuing my career with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, a team that has supported my growth as a young guy," Verona said. "I came to this team with ambitions to develop as a rider, but I also love the way the team uses technology to engage with fans, something I love to do. The OPQS philosophy of team spirit is something I really like and think it has helped me feel comfortable learning in a professional environment. I am happy to keep developing with OPQS colors on my back for the next two years."
Martin Velits, 29, is a team oriented rider, with skills for the time trials and the one-day races. He's had consistent and reliable performances throughout the 2014 season.
"I'm looking forward to my future with OPQS, after being with the team for several years now," Velits said. "I've really embraced my role as a rider able to work for my teammates. I've been a part of some strong teams and I think we will continue to get better in the next years. I want to evolve as a cyclist under the umbrella of OPQS, with great support from staff and riders that are as much friends as teammates."
"Both these riders had great performances at La Vuelta and throughout the season," OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere said. "Martin Velits is a developed rider, but he showed true professionalism and a great attitude throughout the three weeks. Carlos Verona is still discovering himself, but showed the results of hard preparation for his first grand tour in Spain. He was clearly proud to ride for us in his home country. I think both Velits and Verona are both a good fit for our team and I personally look forward to seeing what each can do over the next two seasons."
OPQS rider Jan Bakelants tried to drop his three breakaway companions several times on the final climb, Citadelle de Namur, at 198.2km GP de Wallonie on Wednesday. The group was holding off a select group down to about 20 riders, holding a 22" gap.
The breakaway stayed together, however, and with the riders starting to look at each other the select group started to come back. That is when Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) accelerated out of the escape group. Only Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) and Bakelants were able to stay with the move.
Going into the final kilometer Bakelants tried to launch from far out, with riders bridging across to the leaders from the select group behind. But Van Avermaet was able to overtake the Belgian rider to go on for the race victory. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) was 2nd, and Bakelants 3rd).
Earlier in the race Gianluca Brambilla went on the attack with F. Schleck (Trek Factory Racing). That is when other riders bridged and Bakelants was able to go away with the breakaway riders that ultimately decided the stage.
OPQS worked hard to bring back the original breakaway with a long way to go in the race, and the team stayed aggressive until the finish line.
"Today I wanted to try to win because I was the defending champion," Bakelants said. "But, it is what it is. I think we had a good chance when we went away with four riders. I think we could have mad the race a bit harder for a guy like Van Avermaet in the breakaway, but the other guys didn't really try to put him under pressure. So, we went together onto the Citadelle. I know this climb well. I played my cards, but knew it would not be easy to beat Van Avermaet if it came down to a sprint as he is faster than me. I tried to attack more than once, but he was strong. Considering myself, I'm in good condition for worlds. I showed I am ready today. I am at the same level as last year, except I didn't win."
OPQS riders Andrew Fenn, Iljo Keisse, and Gianluca Brambilla went 1-2-3 in a breakaway at Desselgem Koerse on Tuesday.
"There was an attack at the first lap with Iljo and three or four other guys," Fenn said. "Then a group came across with pretty much everyone else of our team. After a few laps there was another small selection that formed. We all made the move so we had the numbers, five or six guys in front out of 10 or 11. It was a bit messy because people were looking at each other. People started attacking at one point and there was a moment for me to go so I went. It was a bit far, but I knew my teammates would help behind. If I got caught I also knew the guys could be fresh and someone else could go. We just had to play the numbers game correctly. Then Iljo and Gianluca came across to me on the last lap and they let me cross the line first. It was really nice. I've done this race a couple times so I know the parcours well. I'm happy our tactics worked out so well and we were all so committed to win today. It's the usual OPQS team spirit. This time it was evident even on the podium."more information