OPQS rider Niki Terpstra, and teammate Yoeri Havik, remain on the GC podium of 6-Days Amsterdam due to some good finishes in multiple events.
Terpstra and Havik finished 3rd in the Supersprint, which earned them 10 points. The duo were in the race lead after day 1 with 66 points, and the second day was abandoned due to a serious accident involving a derny pacer. The pacer, Cees Stam, is the grandfather of Havik. OPQS continues to wish Stam the best as he remains in the hospital.
6-Days Amsterdam, Day 3
1. / Nick Stöpler/Leif Lampater 134 pt
2. / Pim Ligthart/Jasper De Buyst 180 pt +1 lap
3. / Niki Terpstra/Yoeri Havik 142 pt +1 lap
4. / Alex Rasmussen/Marc Hester 132 pt +1 lap
5. / Denis Rugovac/Sebastian Wotschke 37 pt +8 laps
The 102nd edition of the Tour de France was revealed today at the 'Palais des Congrès', and OPQS rider Mark Cavendish was in attendance along with Sport Director Wilfried Peeters. The 2015 Tour de France includes a total distance of 3,350km. There are nine flat stages, three hilly stages, seven mountain stages (five summit finishes), one individual time trial, one team time trial, and two rest days.
"I'm quite happy with this Tour," Mark Cavendish said. "A lot of the starts and finishes we've done before at past editions of the Tour de France. It's a flattish first week, which is good for the sprinters. There are few good opportunities for the sprint in the first week, plus two more occasions in the last 2 weeks including the Champs-Élysées. I won on the Champs four times and I'm looking forward to trying again. The number of chances for a sprint at this Tour are outstanding for me. This route will still provide some good finishes for the GC guys. I think it's a very nice route. "
The 2015 Tour de France opens with a 14km time trial stage in Utrecht (Netherlands). There will be plenty of sprint opportunities in the first week, however there could be echelons due to cross winds. There is also a finish on the Mur de Huy (1.3km, 9.6% average gradient) in Stage 3 that will surely bring some early fireworks within the peloton. There is also the Mur de Bretagne (2km, 6.9% average gradient, ramps of 15%) as a finishing climb in the 8th stage.
"It's still going to be hard, we'll still be going full gas every day," Cavendish said. "If there are windy conditions in any stages that first week, we've got the best team in the world to handle that as we've shown in past Tours de France. Omega Pharma – Quick-Step is filled with strong guys that know how to animate races, particularly in crosswinds. I'm more excited about those possibilities than nervous. This Tour leaves good chances for sprinters and plenty for GC riders as well. We're going to focus on what I need to do, and what OPQS needs to do to win some stages. Last year my team did great even without me there, and I was in great form before I crashed. So, I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do at the 2015 Tour de France with this route, riding for a strong team like Omega Pharma – Quick-Step."
However, the peloton will not reach the high mountains of the race until after the first rest day. Stage 10, from Tarbes to La Pierre Saint Martin, will begin the big climbing of the Tour. There is also 42km of total time trials in the race, but the final fight for the yellow jersey will not be a time trial before Paris. The GC contenders will instead face the legendary Alpe-d'Huez , which includes 21 hairpin turns and an 8.1% average gradient in 13.8km of climbing, in the penultimate stage.
Tour race organizers also revealed a new points distribution for the nine flat stages of the race that might change the fight for the Green jersey.
"It will be a nervous peloton with this parcours," Wilfried Peeters said. "Every day something can happen, as is the Tour tradition. The time trial at the beginning is not so long and it will keep the door open to the sprinters or classic riders to try to get the yellow jersey, especially with the second stage at Zeeland, that can be conditioned by wind, and the days after in Belgium. The finish on the Mur de Huy can offer a lot of possibilities to the classic riders, as will the day after in the stage with the cobblestone sectors. Then there is a stage with the Mur de Bretagne that can be the first arrival for riders who target the GC. Though the high mountains don't start until after the first rest day, there can still be differences made in the first week. The team time trial will be important before going into the Pyrenees. The last week is hard as it is every year. Every day the situation can change. It's an interesting Tour de France without a lot of time trials. The new system of bonifications can also play a role in the race. On paper it will be a spectacular Tour de France."
The second day of the 6-Days of Amsterdam was called off on Tuesday due to a serious accident with a derny driver.
OPQS rider Niki Terpstra and his teammate Yoeri Havik won the opening Madison, after going into the second night with the lead at 66 points. But the accident resulted in the second night being stopped. Thoughts are with derny pacer Cees Stam, who was brought to the hospital with serious injuries according to the race.
A statement from 6-Days Amsterdam is available here.
Thanks to a Niki Terpstra win in the first derny event of the evening, and a victory of both Niki Terpstra and Yoeri Havik in the final madison, the duo took a lead in the first night at 6-Days Amsterdam on Monday.
Terpstra and Havik earned 66 points on the first evening. Terpstra won the event in 2011 along with Iljo Keisse.
6-Days Amsterdam, Day 1
1. Niki Terpstra/Yoeri Havik 66 points
2. Leif Lampater/Nick Stöpler 52 pt
3. Pim Ligthart/Jasper De Buyst 77 pt +1 lap
4. Alex Rasmussen/Marc Hester 46 pt +1 lap
5. Denis Rugovac/Sebastian Wotschke 14 pt + lap
OPQS riders Mark Cavendish and Iljo Keisse trained together with Sport Director Tom Steels at Vlaams Wielercentrum Eddy Merckx Gent on Friday through Monday, in anticipation of Lotto Six-Days Flanders-Gent, which takes place from November 18th until the 23rd of the month. The Manx Missile and the five-time Gent Six-Days winner Keisse will be teammates for the first time.
"Training went quite well today," OPQS Sport Director Tom Steels said on Monday. "It was two sessions of 45 minutes. We were all going pretty fast, about 55 kilometers per hour. Preparing for this event is a combination of training on the road, and also the track for the leg speed and the technique. They both have a lot of experience with this discipline, so that comes back to them quickly, purely from memory. But still, they have to practice and I think that's why these days of training in anticipation of the race is important. Especially for Iljo and Mark. They've rode with each other maybe once. So it's important they practice. I think they're going to be up there to go for the win. They're both experienced and motivated, so we'll see what this can bring with these two as teammates on the track as they have been on the road. It's new to them riding together, but Iljo will give good guidelines to Mark about Gent. He's got so much experience there, they will both know what to expect."
Cavendish said he is honored to ride with the five-time winner, and is looking forward to his first track event in years.
"I like to ride the Gent Six-Days," Cavendish said. "Last year I had a long season, but this year my season ended pretty early. So, it made sense to start with the six-days and give me short-term focus in anticipation of next year. I'm incredibly lucky. This year we've got a legend in the six-days world on the track with Iljo. He'll get to start in his home of Gent. Gent is also known as a British six-day, because so many fans come over. I've done it twice before, it's really the hardest one. But I'm in good company with Iljo. He's incredibly focused and he keeps me focused. It's an honor to ride with him on this team and I know we can go away with a good result. To me I never like to go into the race without trying to win. Iljo has won here so many times and for sure we want to do well. I haven't ridden in six or seven years, but we'll give our best. I want to be in the best condition possible and do Iljo and the team proud. Track racing is different and something to get used to. It's different technique and you use muscles that you don't necessarily use on the road. We've been here the past few days behind the derny ridden by Tom Steels, getting used to the high pace and high cadence and adapting our muscles to riding. We haven't done full gas efforts quite yet until our bodies adapt to the track, but we will."
Keisse looks forward to opening his track season at his home race, his favorite cycling event, where he is known for so much success.
"It's still one month away but I'm absolutely looking forward to it," Keisse said. "We will need that time to get back into the rhythm of track racing, but I'm excited about Gent Six-Days as I always am with it being a home race for me. I'm happy about riding with Cavendish. I'm very proud and honored to ride with him. It's always been a dream to ride with him. Last year we talked about it but it didn't work out. This year in agreement with the team we are now working hard and training for Gent. It's pretty difficult because it's in the middle of winter. I'm trying to work as hard as possible for next season and do specific training for Gent. This is not negative, it's part of the build up. We'll do short efforts on the track and when weather is not too bad, long and easy efforts on the road. As for what it takes to do well on the track, experience and speed are important, but the chemistry between the teammates has to be there. Chemistry is the most important thing. What one rider lacks, the other rider must have extra. Mark is one of the fastest guys in the world and with me, who is one of the most experienced on the field that is riding the Gent Six-Days, it's a good combination. We're also friends, which makes it easier when you're riding with someone for the first time on the track.
Keisse noted that the six-days events are special, but especially in Gent where it is world renowned.
"There's a big difference between six-days and world championships," Keisse said. "World Championships are big gear, short races. Six-days are more like stage races on the road. You do between 100 kilometers and 120 kilometers every evening, with 10 or 12 different events. They go from 8 at night until 1 or 2 in the morning sometimes. All those points and laps come together for the classification. But it's mostly about the atmosphere. In Gent it's a full house every day. It's special to be a part of that. For six-day riders I think Gent is the best event in the world at this moment. I think that's why Cav wanted to do it. He's been in Gent before, he knows what this event is like. I think it's big for him to come back and try and win an event like the Gent Six. We'll try our best to do that."
OPQS rider Niki Terpstra will also open his track season today, at 6-Days of Amsterdam. Good luck Niki!