Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski finished 5th at 251.4km Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. The race came down to the final ascent of the Cauberg, with 3 kilometers to go.
Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) launced an acceleration no one could match, and he went on to win solo. Kwiatkowski was in good position heading into the climb after being led there by teammate Michal Golas, even marking accelerations from the beginning. He marked an attack of Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) just before Gilbert went up the road.
Kwiatkowski did his best to chase with a small group including Gerrans, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol), but they were unable to close the gap. Vanendert was 2nd, Gerrans was 3rd, and Valverde 4th.
Zdenek Stybar was also a protagonist for OPQS, going with an attack of Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar) with 39km to go. A select group then formed as they pursued the original breakaway. However, most of those riders were absorbed by the peloton except for Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). Those riders caught two left in the lead with about 10km left in the race, but those riders were all neutralized with 7km to go.
OPQS was also a team that helped chase down several breakaways.
Tony Martin suffered a crash, without serious consequences, after being last of the line in a wide road that suddenly narrowed. He touched wheels with Kwiatkowski and fell. He was able to keep riding quickly after suffering a mechanical, which required a new bike.
Wout Poels had a bike change on the Bemelerberg with about 8km to go in the race. That, and a bit of a bad day on the bike, put him out of contention for the final.
“There is something so good about this Cauberg,” Kwiatkowski said. “I think it’s something I need to discover. I think I would have been a little bit better further back in the group, maybe following a guy like Gilbert. He has so much experience. I think it would be a bit easier. I didn’t catch an attack from Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing Team) right away early on the climb. I was a little bit back. That surprised me, but I had just started behind my teammate Michal Golas on the Cauberg. I thought ‘why do I have to wait,’ as I thought after a couple of seconds later we’d be on the top. But on the bike, it’s a long way to the top. I went too early actually and I paid for it. But, I’m happy.”
“I had so much support from my teammates,” Kwiatkowski continued. “I have done this race twice now, and I have performed recon of the parcours. I'm learning year-by-year. I stayed in the race all day in the front, but maybe from this I learned I need to stay a little more in the back and realize when to use my energy. But the support of my teammates was great today regardless of my choice of position. Golas was really impressive today. He was able to chase down a breakaway, then he was still with me on to the bottom of the Cauberg. So I’m happy with what they did for me. I finished 5th and while I didn’t improve on last year’s 4th place, I made it a little bit better start. Because I could follow guys on the Cauberg and I couldn’t last year. I had maybe a little bit better of a sprint, but this year I took a different way. I did better but in the end I just couldn’t follow Gilbert. There is so much to learn and I for Fleche Wallone, I think this makes me confident. After Pais Vasco I took a different way to prepare for the Ardennes Classics. I’m happy my legs are OK and there are a few days of recovery. If you have good legs, you can be there. I showed today they are there. I’m looking forward to the next two races.”
“Actually I think I did a good race,” Jan Bakelants said. “In the second to last climb I helped to close the gap on the breakaway. It cost me some energy and at the foot of the Cauberg I wasn't well placed. In any case I'm in good condition and on Wednesday I will be there again to try to do my best. "more information
Wout Poels won a stage of Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco recently, and is competing in Amstel Gold Race. Get to know the Dutch rider who joined Omega Pharma - Quick - Step Cycling Team in 2014, and learn his thoughts about the race at home that opens the Ardennes Classics!
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team met with the media two days before Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, April 20th. Riders and staff interviewed included Michal Kwiatkowski, Patrick Lefevere, Wout Poels, and Jan Bakelants. Their comments are in the text below.
"I know I can do it well, Amstel Gold Race," Kwiatkowski said. "We go into the race very motivated. As for me, I've had more results this year leading into Amstel. So, because of that there is perhaps more pressure, but until now nothing has changed. I can say much more after the race. I have to save a lot of energy until the last climb on the Cauberg. It's not easy to stay in front all day of a 250km race. If you want to save energy, perhaps some people will think it's better to sit in the back of the group. But, it's always better to sit in the front. You have to do that. Don't use energy to be there. You have to know where to be before the climb and on the climb. That's why the recon and experience of this race is so important and I am happy we're well prepared. I know the parcours really well as does the team. We know the race and it usually starts at 70 kilometers to go. But, anything could happen. There are a lot of good riders who are explosive on the climbs. Philippe Gilbert, Joaquim Rodriguez, or Alejandro Valverde for example. This race is unpredictable, so it's difficult to give a true prognosis before the race."
"Michal last year was also competitive in these kinds of races," Lefevere said. "This year, the riders around him have become stronger. We have experienced riders like Pieter Serry, Jan Bakelants, and Wout Poels, who is racing at home. We'll also have to see how recovered Zdenek Stybar is from Paris-Roubaix. As for the race, it typically is very nervous. There are a lot of curves. They announced crosswinds for the race, so it will be even more tough."
"I feel really good," Poels said. "Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco was a really nice victory and race in general. I feel really good, so I hope we can do a nice job at Amstel Gold Race. It means a lot at my home province. It's a really nice race, and a nice public here at my home. I'm looking forward to it. I feel the team really likes this race. We have climbers in the team who can also do well in a one day race like this."
"The upcoming two races, Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, are really important races of my season," Bakelants said. "I look forward to competing in them. Clearly I am eager to do them and hoping to do well for me as well as the team. Amstel Gold Race is not typical because it's all about short, uphill, almost sprinting efforts. One sprint is not enough to get to the top though, so there's a mix of endurance and efforts that go into the lactic acid. So, this parcours is a nice challenge. As for the team, OPQS has a strong team this year with 30 strong guys. No matter race we come to, we have always eight really competitive riders."more information
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the program of Mark Cavendish for the coming weeks. As previously communicated, the British Champion will ride the Tour of Turkey at the end of April. He will then ride the AMGEN Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse prior to the Tour de France.
"As everybody knows, my big goal this year is the Tour de France," Cavendish said. "Especially as it starts in my native country. My program is shaped for that moment. This year I will skip the Giro d'Italia. I'm saddened as it's a race that has given me great satisfaction in the past. I have great memories and victories, even last year. But, with the Tour de France as my main objective this year, we had to make some choices. I'm sure passing through the Tour of Turkey, and a great, well organized race like Tour of California will get me in shape and ready for the Tour de Suisse, which will be my final tune-up for the Tour de France."
"With the sickness Mark had, we had to reshape his calendar a little bit," Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag said. "It's a shame because Mark showed how strong he was at Milano-Sanremo. He could have taken advantage of his condition during the period immediately after that race. But, it is what is is, and now we have rebuilt the best approach for Cavendish heading into the Tour. Cav is now training in Italy and will be back at Tour of Turkey with a good, strong team around him. With Tour of Turkey we will open the second part of his season, that culminates with the Tour de France."
Now that the cobbled classics are over we look next to Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. There is a good mix of riders, several who are carrying on the momentum of recent victories or good performances.
The only rider who did the cobbled classics was Zdenek Stybar. You could see his condition by the fact that he was present in the select group and he finished in the top 10. He likes this race, and perhaps the parcours can be even better for him without cobbles to worry about.
Then you have riders from Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout Poels, and Tony Martin all had their own special moments there and are motivated to ride at the first of the Ardennes Classics. Kwiato was always on the podium, while Wout and Tony won three stages combined. I'm excited to see what Tony can do with his engine at a Classic.
When you consider the skills of all these guys, this may be the strongest team we've selected for Amstel Gold Race. But a strong team on paper does not guarantee anything. Especially at a race like this. It's tough and nervous, and also a bit technical.
It helps that I know this race by heart. In fact, I trained a lot on this parcours when I was a rider. I told Tom Steels we know this parcours even better than Tour of Flanders. That is saying something!
We will do our best for a podium, and why not, maybe a victory! We will see how this plays out on Sunday.more information