Overhauled jersey, new lineup and more ambitious goals for Omega Pharma Quick Step team
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Overhauled jersey, new lineup and more ambitious goals for Omega Pharma Quick Step team

by VeloNation Press at 4:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Big plans for 2012 season and beyond as Belgian team is launched

Omega Pharma Quick SteUnveiling a 2012 team kit which bears more that a resemblance to this year’s Leopard Trek team colours, the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team officially got underway today with a clear statement of intent for the upcoming season.

“I expect great results from the team,” stated its owner Zdenek Bakala at the press conference held at the MAS museum in Antwerp. “Our squad must have the ambition to become a successful team that can compete not only in the big Classic races but also in the big tours.

“We have both the right athletes and the right staff to achieve this goal,” he continued. “I have a feeling the team is very united, both in terms of staff and athletes and where sponsors are concerned. I am convinced we will be able to obtain great results thanks to team work and to the great amount of professional skill that animates this team.”

As the name suggests, the squad is composed of elements of both the Omega Pharma Lotto squad and the Quick Step team, with the main sponsor of the former joining the structure of the latter. Longtime Quick Step riders such as Tom Boonen, Gerald Ciolek and Sylvain Chavanel remain on board, while no fewer than six of HTC Highroad’s competitors have moved across from that highly-successful team.

These are led by world time trial champion Tony Martin plus Peter and Martin Velits, and also include former world TT champ Bert Grabsch, Irish road race and TT champion Matt Brammeier and Frantisek Rabon. Former HTC Highroad directeur sportif Brian Holm is also on board and will seek to ensure the same winning mentality permeates the squad.

Other important additions include Levi Leipheimer, who moves across with his RadioShack team-mate Michal Kwiatowski, and who will be one of the team’s main GC hopes in 2012.

The team is significantly stronger than this year’s Quick Step squad, and intends to have a much better season than the relatively quiet one Boonen’s team endured. In order to help the riders get to know each other and to build a sense of trust and shared unity, a three day team-building exercise began this evening at the Zilvermeer Park in Mol, Belgium.

Starting in the forest there, the exercises will see the team undertake what it describes as ‘a series of activities aimed at increasing interaction among the members of the team, reinforcing confidence in fellow colleagues, stimulating creativity and promoting interpersonal communication.’

Team training Tom Steels explained the importance of the mini-camp in terms of bringing people together. “The team has really been rebuilt as far as the number of new riders and staff. We thought a team-building event could be the ideal solution to connect people and start creating a strong sense of team spirit,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see how the members of the team will behave in the different situations and in the tougher moments. The activities? Those are still top secret! We believe this team building will provide us with some interesting data and help us better understand the particular skills of each of our athletes and staff members.

“Every individual victory is the fruit of teamwork. This is the work ethic we want our team members to learn, in the hope that they will be able to use it to their advantage during races.”

New colours, future plans:

Omega Pharma Quick Step jerseyMuch was discussed today but one of the most noteworthy aspects was the unveiling of the new team kit. Produced by the Vermarc Sportswear company, the colouring is predominantly what it calls Blizzard blue and white, with black trim. The colour scheme is very similar to that of Leopard Trek, although it will itself undergo a big change next month when RadioShack and Nissan step into the title sponsorship role and, presumably, bring a different colour scheme to the squad.

This is just as well, as the Omega Pharma Quick Step squad stated today that the colour scheme it used was chosen to make the team’s merchandising and clothing lines very distinguishable.

Each rider will have his name printed on the back of the jersey and this will, according to the team, make it possible for fans who favour a certain rider to buy a jersey with his name on it.

“We opted for a jersey with a white color base to enhance the visibility of our sponsors’ logos,” said general manager Patrick Lefevere, “while retaining the team’s traditional identity through black and Blizzard Blue graphics, which make the shirt unique. In our opinion this jersey is the perfect synthesis of modernity and elegance, and I’m sure our fans are going to love it. Now it’s up to our athletes to make it a winner.”

Bakala is focussed on next season, of course, but he’s also looking further ahead to the future of the squad. For this reason he has backed the creating of the new Bakala Academy, which will be built in the Sports Campus of Leuven University in Belgium, and start functioning in 2013. Totalling over 1,000 square metres, the ground floor will host the research and performance centre, while upstairs will be the location of the Altitude Center, where there will be specific areas dedicated to athletes.

“Our objective is to create a centre of excellence to promote innovation and education in cycling, as well as contributing to the development of sports within an international, cultural and economic perspective,” the billionaire Czech businessman explained. “The Academy will provide high-quality services for our team, but the entire cycling movement will be able to benefit from it. Research and innovation will inspire the Academy's life. I am convinced that cycling needs to broaden the context within which it operates: the Academy is a step in this direction."

Bakala also advocates a wider change in the sport, calling for some of the changes those pushing for a new breakaway league have suggested as being crucial for the long-term prospects of the teams and others. “Cycling needs to make a step forward and exploit all of its potential,” he explained. “Formula 1 underwent a substantial innovation process a few years ago: I see cycling as doing the same thing. Cycling must do the same by involving all the interested components, from teams, to the UCI, to race organizers. It is necessary that every part of the cycling world is involved in this process.

“As far as our team is concerned, I hope that in a few years the team will manage to be recognized as having a real and attractive brand that defines it, and that we will manage to give our sponsors and partners even more important services and opportunities both from the commercial and from the image point of view. We're certainly on the right track to achieve this result.”

The team is yet to announce its racing programme for 2012, but being a ProTeam squad, some of its riders are certain to take part in the Santos Tour Down Under. It begins on January 15th, giving the riders just over a month to get ready for the start of what Bakala, Lefevere, Holm and others hope will its most successful year yet.


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