Quick Step banking on an aggressive Paris-Tours finale
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Friday, October 07, 2011

Quick Step banking on an aggressive Paris-Tours finale

by Ben Atkins at 1:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Fall Classics, Paris-Tours
 
Belgian Classics team sending a squad of attackers for shortened Avenue de Grammont finishing straight

sylvain chavanelQuick Step is one team that is banking on the new finish to Sunday’s Paris-Tours race disrupting the sprinters enough to allow a breakaway to succeed. The race previously featured a 2.4km-long finishing straight along Tours’ Avenue de Grammont, which often allowed the sprinters’ teams to home in on breakaway riders, but this has been shortened to 600 metres thanks to a new tram system being built in the city.

In previous years team manager Patrick Lefevere has won the race through Johan Museeuw (1993), Andrea Tafi (2000) and Richard Virenque (2001), and all from breakaways. His teams have had less luck in recent years though, with Tom Boonen’s second place in 2009 – outsprinted by Philippe Gilbert – as the only bright spot.

Gert Steegmans, the team’s powerful rouleur/sprinter did finish third in last year’s race as it finished in a bunch sprint, but this was the best result of his miserable season with RadioShack.

With the shortened finishing strainght offering much less opportunity for the sprinters’ teams to organise themselves though, the Belgian team hopes that its breakaway specialists will have their day.

“The squad taking to the starting line is an aggressive formation with riders who can attack in the final part of the race," said sports director Rik Van Slycke. "In fact, compared to previous years, there will no longer be the 2km-long straightaway that usually comes in the last part of the race.

“The riders will come to the final straightaway only 600 metres from the arrival,” he explained. “It will definitely be more difficult for the sprinters to recuperate and organize the sprint. Therefore riders like [Sylvain] Chavanel, [Dries] Devenyns and [Davide] Malacarne will become essential players and will try to make their moves on the brief kickers that come before the arrival.

“[Nikolas] Maes is also in top form at the moment, playing on the conditioning he achieved in the Vuelta,” he continued. “Guillaume Van Keirsbulck will also be on the team; for him the race will serve especially to gain some experience in a race over 200 km and to understand where he stands in relation to the best in the group. It will be an important test even for Steegmans who he’s improving race by race.”

Quick Step team for Paris-Tours:
Sylvain Chavanel, Kevin De Weert, Dries Devenyns, Nikolas Maes, Davide Malacarne, Andreas Stauff, Gert Steegmans and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck

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