Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will take part in Ronde van België (Tour of Belgium), a 730.1km race over five stages, from May 22nd to May 26th.
"This year Tour of Belgium will be a hard race, from the beginning until the end," Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. "The first stage has a finish in Knokke, so there is a strong possibility of a windy day. It's difficult to control that kind of race because they are going by the sea, which is why the wind will be so strong and there will be this kind of situation. The second day has a finish in Ninove, where they pass through Maldegem, which includes the roads of Tour de Flandre. So this will be a day that is also not so easy with that included in the parcour. The third day is a 15km time trial in Beveren, which is also challenging. The fourth stage is in Lacs De L'eau D'Heure — an up and down parcour — so it will be another difficult day. Then, the last stage, they have to pass Côte de La Redoute three times. There is even an uphill finish. So, to finish the stage race with a day like that, it will be a challenging few days without a doubt."
"Fortunately we have a good team ready to fight," Van Slycke continued. "I also have to say that the level of racers who will take the start will be really high this year, for all teams. But we can count on really good riders who are able to be present in the actions every day — in the sprint, or the typical Flanders parcour, but also in the time trial. We have the 2012 Tour of Belgium defending champion in Tony Martin, and the UCI World TT Champion is ready to fight. So, we will try to our best to make a good race and get the best result we can."more information
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team wrapped up their AMGEN Tour of California with two riders in the top 10 on the 130.6km sprinter friendly Stage 8 on Sunday.
Gianni Meersman was 4th in the bunch sprint finish. He was in good position on the right side in the final kilometer despite OPQS being down to five riders due to dehydration or injury, and the team also used up a lot of energy chasing down the breakaway that was caught with 10km to go.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) took advantage of a very well established leadout train, winning easily. Daniel Schorn (Team NetApp-Endura) was 2nd, and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was 3rd. Sylvain Chavanel finished 9th after helping Meersman get into the best position possible for his sprint.
Meersman finished in the top five multiple times, and also finished 3rd in the 4th stage. Chavanel also finished in the top 10 multiple times.more information
Severe weather continued to batter the Giro d'Italia peloton on Sunday, with inclement weather forcing another course change to Stage 15. The stage was shortened to 145km, and the race finished before the Galibier summit due to cold temperatures and heavy snow accumulations.
A seven rider breakaway eventually dwindled down to Giovanni Visconti (Movistar Team), who attacked four riders remaining ahead on the Col du Télégraphe (average gradient 7.2%, 12km). Visconti went on to win the stage solo, but it was far from easy as the snowfall was heavy on the final climb and there were groups all over the road on the Galibier (6.8%, max ramp 11%). Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini) was chasing solo for quite some time, and other chase groups formed behind him, but were eventually brought back. One of the groups behind Visconti that managed to stay away from the maglia rosa group going into the final kilometer was Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), and Carlos Betancur (AG2R-La Mondiale).
Betancur was 2nd, and Niemiec 3rd. There were many attacks in the maglia rosa group, but the Majka attack caused a major split in the group and left only a very elite group to decide the top positions of the stage. There was no change in the top 3 of the GC, and only Majka gained time in the top 10.
Michal Golas was the top OPQS finisher, and all OPQS riders finished the stage. OPQS looks next to a rest day on Monday.more information
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Gianni Meersman finished 15th on a tough HC summit finish on Saturday's 141.7km Stage 7 at AMGEN Tour of California. He was one of about a dozen riders who stayed with the yellow jersey group, and finished just 1'02" from race winner Leopold König (NetApp-Endura) on Mt. Diablo.
Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) was 2nd, and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) was 3rd.
OPQS rider Carlos Verona entered into the breakaway of the day, but the gap for the break only reached a maximum gap of a few minutes during the stage. Verona stayed ahead with four other riders heading onto Mt. Diablo — 17km in length — but eventually those riders were caught by a hard charging peloton. Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and David De La Cruz (NetApp-Endura) attacked earlier and remained ahead out of the original break.
Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Leopard) was one of the first riders to attack out of the yellow jersey group, but he was soon caught and dropped by attacking Francisco Mancebo (5 Hour Energy) with several kilometers remaining. Mancebo eventually caught the duo ahead, and then started to drop them as well. However, Acevedo attacked out of the yellow jersey group, and passed Mancebo with 2.7km to go.
The winning move came from König in the final kilometers, as he caught Acevedo and then attacked him inside the final 500m and went on to victory.
OPQS looks next to a 130.4km Stage on Sunday, from San Francisco to Santa Rosa.more information
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Matteo Trentin made a four rider escape group in a Giro d'Italia Stage 14 that featured such inclement weather the Sestriere climb was removed, which added 12km to make the stage 180km on Saturday.
Trentin and the escapees 6'20" gap with 23km to go, but he lost contact with the group with less than 20km remaining when he suffered bad luck. He had a mechanical which required a bike change, and his gap to the three leaders could not be closed as it grew from 50" to 2 minutes in the final kilometers.
However, the other three leaders were also eventually caught. The maglia rosa group cut into the lead as Luca Paolini (Katusha) went solo in the final kilometers of the 7.25km summit finish. The final climb had an average gradient of 9 percent — the initial gradient being 14", and the final 750m or so staying above an 11% gradient.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), wearing the maglia rosa, attacked in a group of only about 30 riders. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) along with Carlos Betancur (AG2R - La Mondiale) went with him. The race came down to Nibali and Santambrogio as they battled together inside the final 400m. Santambrogio was able to best Nibali for the stage victory. Betancur crossed the line 9" down in 3rd.
"This morning there were several attacks, and in one of those attacks I entered on the wheel of Paolini," Trentin said. "Suddenly we were in the front with seven riders, but three of them crashed in a roundabout entering a small town. I avoided the crash by a few centimeters. I was lucky. So we then worked together, four of us, but I wasn't really feeling good as I was tired from the last stages working for Cav. Then at the end, in between 15km and 20km from the finish, I had a flat tire. I had to also change my bike at that time. The mechanical cost me a minute, which made it impossible to come back. In a certain way I am happy about my race. Even if I was tired I was able to take the breakaway and try to go as far as I could. The stage was really hard, even without the Sestriere the weather made this stage really difficult. So, that's that. Tomorrow is another mountain stage. I hope to survive and wait for the rest day, which will be perfect for the team as we need to recover a bit."
Mark Cavendish crossed the line 22'31" down with six teammates in the 'grupetto', and Gert Steegmans did not take the start today due to stomach problems.more information