During the first training camp of 2015, in Oliva (Spain), Rigoberto Uran and Etixx - Quick-Step management made official the race program for the first part of his 2015 season.
The first race of 2015 for Rigo will be the Colombian National ITT Championship, as well as the National Road Championship on the 7th and the 8th of February.
"The time trial is on a parcours of 47 kilometers, which are up and down and in the East part of the Antioquia province," Uran said. "It's a nice parcours that I like a lot. The road race parcours will start in Medellin, and will start with a straight stretch and finish with a three-lap circuit of the same parcours of the time trial. I start with the ambition that I'd like to win the time trial, and do the best I can in the road race. It would be an honor to wear the Colombian champion jersey in the European races, and be like an ambassador of my country. But I know the competitors are strong. The level is growing a lot in the last years. So it won't be easy. But in any case it will be a great experience for me. I haven't rode in Colombia in years, since I've been racing in Europe. So it will be a great occasion for my fans to come and follow the race and support me live, and not on television like they have to do when I race in Europe."
The debut in Europe for the Colombian Etixx - Quick-Step rider will be in Classic Sud Ardeche. Uran will then race Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico. After the short Italian stage race, Rigo will race Volta ao Catalunya and then Tour de Romandie leading into the Giro d'Italia.
"I am really excited about my program and the races I have to do," Uran said. "We chose a different approach than last year. In 2014 I started my season in Tour of Oman. This year we decided to change my race calendar a bit. I plan on racing 'The Double' (Giro d'Italia, Tour de France). I will be racing two big grand tours, which changes my calendar needs a bit. About the Giro, I saw the parcours and I think I can do well. It is suited to my skills. There is also a long time trial. Everyone knows I work a lot on the time trial discipline in order to improve my performance. I think an approach similar to the one we had last year, such as reconnaissance and specific training, means I can do well again. In the past two years I was on the overall podium of the Giro, so of course my objective is to be there among the best, even this year. The Giro is a special race where anything can happen at any moment, but my goal is to be there and ready for the race no matter what can happen each day. I can count on a great team that now has one year more of experience in the big stage races. They know how to do it and they are even more motivated to do well there. I can also say that with Italy I have a great relationship. I have a lot of supporters there, for example in Gavardo (province of Brescia) I have a fan club that always follow me. They don't care if I win or lose. They are there for me regardless."
Uran will return, after three years, to the Tour de France following the Giro.
"I rode already the Tour de France in 2009 and 2011," Uran said. "In 2011 I wore the white jersey for six days. It was an unforgettable experience. I am really happy to come back to this race, one of the top races in the world. I know it is difficult to do the Giro and the Tour at a high level, but as you know I like to think about things race-by-race and I am able to focus on two different objectives during my season in this way. My approach will be different at the Tour than at the Giro. I will try to go there to do well, but it will be more linked to rediscovering the race and to stage hunt. But of course I'd also like to do well in the last week, and give a hand to the team when necessary. About my program after the Tour, it is not yet decided. I want to focus on the intense part of my season that will be a great opportunity for me. I can ride the races I love and I am super motivated to do it."
Etixx- Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in the Santos Tour Down Under, one of the first races to launch the 2015 road season. The stage race will take place from January 20th through the 25th of the month, following the 51km People's Choice Classic on January 18th. The parcours of the 2015 edition focuses on a more equal opportunity for sprinters, climbers, and all-rounders to do well.
"It's the first UCI WorldTour race of the year," Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. "It's always important to be inspired for good racing as soon as the first stage begins. But the team will be extra motivated because our sponsor, Etixx Sports Nutrition, is launching their product in Australia, where this race is held. We have a good team for any situation — guys like Gianni Meersman and Mark Renshaw for example. Mark is also Australian, which brings a little extra motivation that can play a role in the sprints. He even won the Down Under Classic in 2007, and won the first stage of Tour Down Under in 2008. Meersman can also take advantage of specific kinds of sprints, such as in a small group. For the climbs we have David De La Cruz, Pieter Serry, and Maxime Bouet. Bouet did a good race last year, but crashed two days from the finish which prevented a top finish. We are sure they can arrive focused and ready to contribute on the climbs such as on Willunga Hill. Two riders who will compete the team are Martin Velits and Yves Lampaert, two strong riders for any kind of terrain. Lampaert, De La Cruz, and Bouet will be motivated to do well as they are making their debut with the team. With the challenge of the parcours also comes the possibility of the wind affecting the race, but with this kind of team we can be ready to do well in any kind of situation on each stage."
Etixx - Quick -Step Selection for Santos Tour Down Under
Maxime Bouet FRA
David De La Cruz ESP
Yves Lampaert BEL
Gianni Meersman BEL
Mark Renshaw AUS
Pieter Serry BEL
Martin Velits SVK
Etixx – Quick-Step is getting some rest today, after a successful six days of their first training camp for 2015 in Valencia (Spain). The riders and staff have been kept busy between off-bike photo shoots, strength & stability training, and of course training rides.
Etixx – Quick-Step trainer Koen Pelgrim said the area has proven to be the perfect training ground for the team.
"The quality of the roads is good here," Pelgrim said. "You can train on the flats, the climbs, and the types of climbs are also diverse. You have rolling climbs and steep climbs. The quality of the weather here is also good. The rest day was our first cloudy day in six days. This makes it a perfect place for training."
Training camp was also a perfect place to get the riders together for their off-bike training. This way, team physiotherapists and trainers could work with them directly to monitor technique and progress.
Some riders, for example, performed cycling ergometer lactate threshold tests with Pelgrim and staff of Bakala Academy.
"We did lactate threshold tests that we also did with the Belgian guys earlier at Bakala Academy," Pelgrim said. "We tested the other guys here at camp. We wanted to see the level of riders to determine the training zones for the rides we did at training camp, and also until we test them again around the time of our second training camp."
Bakala Academy Nutrition Specialists also met with the riders to discuss their individualized meal plans for the upcoming season. Furthermore, some of the riders performed strength & stability training a couple times directly following their training rides.
"It's been proven that doing strength training helps also endurance athletes," Pelgrim said. "That is something we always do in the preparation phase before at home. But we also try to continue it at training camp. That's why we brought it here and we did the program here, so they can continue it without missing anything."
Of course, a major component of training camp are the team rides. The kinds of efforts differed depending on the type of rider.
"We split the groups into three," Pelgrim said. "We had one group with the guys from Tour Down Under, as they need harder and more specific training to prepare them for earlier racing. Then we have the group that consists of the guys of the Belgian Classics and the sprinters. Then, of course, you have the climbers."
All of the riders still performed long distance rides as part of their training.
"Our longest ride until now was around 150 kilometers," Pelgrim said. "That was yesterday. Two days before we did between 100 and 120 kilometers depending on the group."
There are still several days left of camp, and there is plenty of work left to be done for the riders.
"Tomorrow a lot of rain is predicted so we will have to freestyle it a bit," Pelgrim said. "We will see what we can do that day if the rain is heavy. The day after there will be some hard training, interval training for Tour Down Under riders. For the Belgian Classics and sprinter group they will do some 200 meter sprints one-by-one. The third group, the climbers, will do some endurance training with strength training after. The last day we will have long rides for the climbers, an endurance ride and also some time on the time trial bike for the Belgian Classics and sprinter group, and the Tour Down Under group will do long training in the mountains. So, as you can see, there is still plenty left to do for our guys and each group will perform efforts specific to their needs."
With 2014 nearing its end, and 68 overall OPQS victories (64 road, 1 cyclocross, 3 track), it is time to recap the best 10 moments of the season. While it was difficult to pick just 10 out of a highly successful year, these moments certainly stood out and deserve special mention.
Our fifth best moment is the win of Matteo Trentin at Tour de France Stage 7.
In his second Tour de France of his career, Trentin also got his second stage victory. He won the stage of 234.5 kilometers on a breathtakingly close finish that was decided by about the depth of a tire.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) caught him just before the line, but was unable to pass Trentin in time thanks to a bike throw. Trentin launched first out of the peloton after being led out perfectly by teammate Michal Kwiatkowski in the white jersey. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) was 3rd
"It was really difficult to know what happened at the time, It was a really close sprint," Trentin said looking back on his victory. "I was sure that Sagan beat me, they were already interviewing him as if he was the winner and I was the loser in 2nd place. Then two or three minutes later I heard over the radio from Fitte (Wilfried Peeters) that I won, and I was already in the middle of an interview at that point talking about how you can't win them all, so I went from being a little bit sad to realizing I won the race. It was a big swing of emotions after a great day of hard work from the team. I was super happy to finish the job."
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step had already finished inside the top 5 of several stages, constantly fighting for a possible stage victory despite the loss of sprinter Mark Cavendish after the first stage. Michal Kwiatkowski moved up to 4th in the GC after all the hard work of himself, as well as the entire team. OPQS worked just as hard in Stage 7, helping to chase down an original six-rider breakaway, and protecting key riders despite several crashes.
The peloton kept the pace high through the two late race Category 4 climbs, but Kwiatkowski and Trentin were able to keep themselves near the front even after Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) launched an attack in hopes of preventing the bunch sprint in the final kilometers.
Looking back on 2014 at training camp, and how Trentin has evolved as a rider including two victories at Le Tour, the young Italian said he is still developing his talent within Omega Pharma – Quick-Step.
"First of all my goal is to further improve in the Classics, the first block of races in my year," Trentin said. "Since it is still only the winter I haven't quite figured out what goals to set beyond that point. Cycling is more than 140 or 150 races you can do, and we do 80 to 85 of them. You can always put your level higher with all of these opportunities and different types of races. Even if I have already won a couple stages of the Tour de France, which is a big honor, if I am only happy with that, I will never improve. You can be happy with these victories and still not be satisfied overall as a rider. I am eager to grow with teammates who work so well together and a staff that is knowledgable and supportive."
Racing isn't the only thing in Trentin's future he is looing forward to. He and his girlfriend are soon expecting a baby boy.
"I found out about my girlfriend being pregnant around the time of AMGEN Tour of California last year," Trentin said. "It's a really nice feeling to be expecting a child. Right now there is no stress, but in January I'll be keeping my phone in my pocket during training in case I need to fly back for the birth of my son (laughs). It's an exciting time for me on and off the bike."
Etixx - Quick-Step has revealed the new jersey of 2015! The jersey will continue with the theme of black and blue, which have been staple colors of the team since 2012. However, Vermarc, one of the most prestigious and loyal partners of Etixx - Quick-Step, designed a modern jersey that focuses on performance, comfort, and also distinctness in the peloton. Furthermore, the 2015 Etixx – Quick-Step jersey design emphasizes sponsor visibility.
Omega Pharma as a title sponsor on the center chest of the jersey is replaced by the name Etixx, and on the right sleeve of the team's jersey, instead of janom s.r.o. the GreenWay logo will be displayed representing the GreenWay project by janom s.r.o.— a new era in electro-mobility for commercial purposes.
Also new to the sponsors present on the 2015 kits is Klein Constantia, on the upper left chest. Dating back to 1685, Klein Constantia has been described as one of the world's most beautiful wine estates. Located in Constantia Valley near Cape Town it is set on the foothills of the Constantiaberg mountains, Klein Constantia is custodian to some of the most historic vineyards in South Africa.
The new Etixx – Quick-Step outfit was worn for the first time by Mark Cavendish and Iljo Keisse during the recent Six Day of Gent.
"I really like the new jersey, " Etixx - Quick-Step rider Iljo Keisse said. "It's fresh, with a really nice balance between the black and the blue colors that represent our team. I had the chance to wear it for a photo shoot and it looks really nice. As it is every year with our outfits by Vermarc, the material has a great combination of comfort and performance. I think this jersey will look sharp in the peloton next year."
"It's like the Classic two-toned kit of the last season," Etixx - Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish said. "The sponsors are really well accommodated with this design. Whatever the color, I am proud to put on the colors of Etixx - Quick-Step anyway. But I believe this jersey will be nice to ride in. The jersey is evolving in good ways every year, just as we are as a team."