Specialized confirms partnership with Omega Pharma – Quick-Step team
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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Specialized confirms partnership with Omega Pharma – Quick-Step team

by VeloNation Press at 7:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tech News
 
Riders to have use of four different models of bikes in 2012

Tom BoonenIt’s been expected to happen ever since Tony Martin let it slip that he’d remain on a Shiv in 2012, and now it’s fully official; the Specialized bike company and the Omega Parma Quick Step team have confirmed they will be partners this season, renewing a connection which existed between 2007 and 2009.

In truth, the news will surprise very few; images of the team in recent days have shown the riders on the machines, completing the changeover from Eddy Merckx bicycles for the riders who were part of the Quick Step setup in 2011.

It marks a change too for several of the incoming riders, although those who were with the HTC Highroad team in 2012 will use the same brand of machine this season.

Specialized Founder and President Mike Sinyard and Quick-Step Manager Patrick Lefevere know each other well from their previous collaboration and have both suggested that returning to work together is a major plus for both company and the Belgian squad.

“During the three years that we worked with Patrick and his team the first time around, we won an amazing number of the world's toughest races,” said Sinyard. “We won the 2007 World Road Race Championships, back-to-back Roubaix/Flanders victories and a Green Jersey at the Tour de France.”

With the exception of Paolo Bettini’s world title, Tom Boonen took the other results. He said that he was pleased to return to the machines. “I know from experience, that the last Tarmac I had was the best bike I ever had. And the difference between the first-generation Tarmac that I rode and the bikes we have now is just huge. I’m very happy.”

The team has had a couple of quieter seasons, partially due to Boonen being affected by injury. He’s determined to get back to his best, while the other riders also plan to raise their game.

The signing of world time trial champion Martin, Peter and Martin Velits, Levi Leipheimer and others add further strength to the lineup, and expectations are that the new-look squad will clock up some very big results.

American rider Leipheimer previously used Specialized bikes while with Gerolsteiner in 2005 and 2006, winning the Deutschland Tour and Dauphiné Libéré atop early versions of the Tarmac SL. “I have really good memories about Specialized, and I’m super excited to go back and see all the changes,” he said. “The bikes get stronger, lighter and faster every year.”

In addition to using the bikes, the riders on the team will also use helmets made by the same manufacturer.

The team plans to chase success in a variety of areas. Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel will target the spring Classics and Tour de France stage wins; the Frenchman will also be one of the protected riders in some stage races. Martin and Leipheimer will use their time trial and climbing strength to chase results in short stage races and the Tour, while others who could clock up big successes include current world cyclocross champion Zdenek Stybar.

They will have a variety of bikes to chose from. The Venge is the aerodynamic model used by riders such as Tour de France Green Jersey winner and world champion Mark Cavendish (HTC Highroad) in 2011; the Tarmac SL4 is lighter and stiffer, and will be the frame of choice for many in the mountains.

The S-Works Roubaix SL3 will be used by Boonen and the other Classic riders on the cobblestones. As for the time trial riders, they will use the Shiv TT bike in races against the clock.

According to head of Specialized Advanced R&D Chris D’Aluisio, the team will be able to use the riders to develop the machines further. Other teams have done this in recent years to big success, and he expects the same to happen with Omega Pharma Quick Step.

“The biggest benefit we expect from this partnership is building better bikes and equipment, because the best riders push us to continually improve,” he said. “Omega Pharma Quick-Step will be a big contributor to the development of bikes and equipment that every rider will be able to ride.”

Team confirms squad for first race of the season:

The team will make its 2012 debut in the Santos Tour Down Under. It confirmed the lineup for that race today, and will be led by Gerald Ciolek and Gert Steegmans in the event.

Also travelling for the WorldTour contest plus the preceding Down Under Classic are Irish road race and time trial champion Matt Brammeier, Andy Fenn, Serge Pauwels and Matteo Trentin .

Sport Director Rik Van Slycke laid out the targets plus the team structure. “We’re lining up for the start with a young group, ideally captained by Steegmans and Ciolek. Our goal is to try and clinch a stage success so that we begin 2012 in the best way there is,” he said.

“We’ve got a good train set up with Brammeier and Fenn, who are fast men. Steegmans and Ciolek will have to capitalize on their team mates’ work and try to win a stage. The second-to-last stage features an important uphill arrival. It could even be the perfect terrain for an athlete like Pauwels.”

Ciolek has flown out early, while the other riders will depart for Australia on Thursday. The remaining team members will take part in the official presentation in Vilvoorde on January 13th.

Omega Pharma Quick Step for Santos Tour Down Under:

Riders Matthew Brammeier (GBR)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Andrew Fenn (GBR)
Serge Pauwels (BEL)
Gert Steegmans (BEL)
Matteo Trentin (ITA)

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