The next 2013 OPQS Big Moment involves Former Cyclocross World Champion Zdenek Stybar. The Czech rider used his multi-discipline bike skills to his advantage on a technical parcours in the final 10km of La Vuelta a Espana Stage 7, and it allowed he and World Champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) the chance to stay away by mere seconds in the 205.9km stage.
As Styby saw the peloton approaching, he chose to launch his sprint rather than play games with his Belgian break mate. Stybar held off Gilbert by less than a bike width in a thrilling photo finish. The win was also crucial for OPQS morale after Tony Martin was caught in the final meters the previous stage, despite a heroic 170-plus kilometer solo breakaway attempt that had the cycling world in awe. Finally, the win gave OPQS a victory in all three 2013 grand tours.
"Tony Martin was really my inspiration, and I know all my teammates were just as motivated because of him," Stybar said. "I decided to go for an attack in the final after speaking with my sport director, because we had powerful sprinters like Gianni Meersman and Andrew Fenn waiting to pounce if I was brought back. But, those technical final kilometers really made it difficult for anyone to catch us — maybe even because Gilbert and I also worked so well together. He was the World Champion after all, which made it no surprise that he made it back to me when I was forced to launch my sprint with the guys closing in on us. For me, it was extra sweet because we honored Tony's effort the day before, and also I was riding with not so fresh legs after two wins and the overall victory at Eneco Tour. It was definitely a super proud moment for me and my teammates. It really made me understand my potential as a road rider, and that all my hard work had paid off."
Once again team Omega Pharma – Quick Step will be in Spain to open their season. In fact, the riders and team staff will meet up starting Monday, December 9th until Thursday the 19th at Hotel Oliva Nova (Oliva) for the first training camp of the 2014 season.
As usual, the first training camp will be an important chance for the athletes to socialize. The first days of the retreat will mostly be dedicated to preparing promotional material like photos and videos for the communication strategy of the team and their sponsors as they look forward to a new season.
But there will certainly be plenty of training sessions on the schedule.
"We chose this location because it's quite flat over there and it's the best way to start training." OPQS Trainer Koen Pelgrim said. "There we can put together some easy kilometers and if we want we can also go inland to look for some more challenging routes. As we always do in December, we'll ride lots of kilometers at a relatively low intensity to build up basic endurance but we'll also do some more specific work. During the camp we'll simulate some sprints and ideal combinations of our athletes for the Cavendish train and we'll work on the time trial bike, both individually as well as for the team time trials we'll be facing during the year. The schedule will be completed with fitness training an evaluation of the current condition with a lactate threshold test that we'll be performing with the staff from the Bakala Academy. Last but not least, some of the athletes from the team will be busy on the track in Valencia in some aerodynamic and development tests with our partner Specialized, which is always very attentive to technical details and the development of our bicycles."
Our 4th best moment of 2013 is one most will remember for the popular YouTube video of passionate Sport Director Davide Bramati. Fellow Italian Matteo Trentin — in his first Tour de France — shocked the cycling world by launching a long sprint out of an 18 rider breakaway by overtaking several other riders in Lyon for Stage 14. Trentin capped off an aggressive final few kilometers and gave all of OPQS something to cheer about. The team was so excited they rushed to hug him, one-by-one, after his win. Bramati's excited reaction was one for a well-liked rider who gives his heart and soul for his teammates. It was finally his chance to shine. Trentin made his mark as a young rider who went from a key component of Mark Cavendish's leadout train to a stage victor.
The 191km 14th Stage of the Tour included seven categorized climbs, but was still a relatively flat stage as none were higher than Category 3 and the final was flat. The constant attacks in the 18 man breakaway kept the gap high enough for the group to make it to the finish line. Julien Simon (Sojasun) tried to win solo, but he was eventually caught, thanks to the efforts of several riders including Trentin, who launched his own attack to chase down Simon. With the group clear to contest the final Michael Abasini (ORICA-GreenEDGE) launched first. Despite this early effort from one of the stronger riders in the group, Trentin's patience paid off. He launched on the right side and managed to pass Albasini and others to take the well deserved victory.
"It was really a result of the patience I learned practicing for the sprint with Mark," Trentin said. "There is a precision to the final effort. You can't go too early, or too late. Especially if there is a lot of wind, which there was that day. I remember it. Any rider who launched too early would surely not make it. So, I launched at 200 meters because I know that was my strength and I knew the wind would give me an advantage over the others. It was all a result of timing, and I was just glad I used my experience helping Cav to fight my way to the top step of the podium. It was also the result of working with so many legends of cycling. Tom Boonen, Tony Martin, Mark — they have all taught me things in different scenarios that prepared me for a day like that."
Bramati said he was proud of Trentin for bringing together his experience as a young rider so quickly, on perhaps the biggest stage in cycling.
"Matteo is a smart, enthusiastic rider and he used that perfectly to win," Bramati said. "I was so happy for him as he is still finding his strengths. He could not have launched the sprint any better than he did. He's an Italian rider who sacrifices all for his teammates and it was his time to get his own glory. I couldn't help my reaction to such a beautiful victory for a young guy like Matteo. I think his best days are yet to come."
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider iljo Keisse and teammate Silvan Dillier won Six Days of Zurich on Saturday, adding another win to the OPQS three-discipline tally in 2013.
Keisse and Dillier were just five points outside the lead going into the final day, and were in second place even the first two days. Keisse's track victory brings the total for OPQS to 60.
Keisse's victory in Zurich means he opened and closed the 2013 race season for OPQS with wins. Keisse and OPQS rider Niki Terpstra also won Six Days of Rotterdam in January.
"When we entered into the last race of the week I thought that it would have been difficult for us to win this race," Keisse said. "It was a little bit the same scenario in Six Days of Gent. We were fighting to come back, but in the end we didn't make it. We were 25 points behind. We started racing, everyone was really tired after the night before because it was really hard. But 20 laps to go on the last night, the group exploded. We went for the lap, me and Silvan, and we were able to close the gap on everyone. De Ketele and De Buyst tried to do the same but were unable to make it by a few meters. So, we won this race and to be honest I am quite happy because of it. For me, it is a bit of revenge after the 2nd place in Gent. Before Gent I worked really hard to try and win the race of my hometown. Everybody knows how much I love that race. Now, winning in Zurich is a good compensation for all the work I did in the last weeks."
This is the second victory in Zurich for Keisse. He won in 2011 with Franco Marvulli.
"Now I am at home, tired," Keisse said. "After a Six Days race, when it's possible, I prefer to go back home immediately and enjoy the day after with my family. My next race on the track will be the 5th of December in Copenhagen. Then I will fly to Spain for the team training camp. I am looking forward to the upcoming training camp with OPQS."
Six Days of Zurich Final
1. Iljo Keisse/Silvan Dillier: 258 points
2. Kenny De Ketele/Jasper De Buyst: 283 points (+1 lap)
3. David Muntaner/Albert Torres: 182 points (+3 laps)
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider and Czech cyclocross champion Zdenek Stybar won the Boonen & Friends charity cyclocross today. Just like last year he was on the top of the podium flanked by Maarten Wynants (2nd) and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (3rd).
At the Zilvermeer in Mol two times world champion Stybar started one minute behind the rest of the peloton. During the race he moved up the field catching Wynants - leader at that moment - in the final lap. Stybar then attacked in accelerated again in the finale and crossed the line solo.
Organizer Tom Boonen showed the OPQS kit of 2014. He was very motivated giving it all during the cross and finished 12th.
"It was a hard race and everybody had to dig deep. I have to say thanks to all the guys that participated here. Some of them haven`t touched a bike for a while or never raced at a cyclocross bike before", said Boonen.