Gert Steegmans looking for his best season ever
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gert Steegmans looking for his best season ever

by Ben Atkins at 11:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour Down Under
Fast start in Tour Down Under helping Belgian sprinter prepare for the Classics

gert steegmansOmega Pharma-Quick’s Step Gert Steegmans got his season under way at the Tour Down Under this week, with the fast Australian race giving him a good idea of what the 2012 season will have in store. The 31-year-old Belgian is starting his second season back with his old team but, with the number of riders recruited this year, the race has also offered him the opportunity to get to know some of his new teammates.

"The racing in Australia is good intense training," said Steegmans. "All winter, I was saying to myself, 'I'm training more than the others, I'm sure, I'm sure. Nobody's training in this weather. And so on.' Then you come to the first race and see, 'Ahh, crap, everyone's been training hard.'"

Steegmans’ big targets for 2012 come later, with the Classics, and the Tour de France, where he has won two stages in his career. At the Tour Down Under though, as well as taking in some high-speed, warm weather mileage, he has had a chance to work with new recruits Andrew Fenn and Matt Brammeier.

"It's a bit too hot. I forgot how it was. When I came here I was knocked of my feet," he laughed.

"The Tour Down Under is an important race because it's in the WorldTour and has many top riders. It is hard to come away with a good result, but we feel good, even if the stages are becoming harder and harder. I think we have a strong team with Gerald Ciolek and Andrew Fenn.

“Fenn is strong and has been impressive with us when were training."

Steegmans raced for Quick Step for two years in 2007 and 2008, and returned last year after two less-than-successful years at Katusha and RadioShack. What was a very Belgian team has had several more nationalities added over the winter; this includes new directeur sportif Brian Holm from HTC-Highroad who brought several important riders with him, including Tony Martin, Bert Grabsch and the Velits twins.

"This year, OmegaPharma-Quick Step Floor team – a long name – actually became more international with Levi Leipheimer, Tony Martin..." Steegmans continued.

"There are a few Belgian teams in the WorldTour and it's nice to have the possibility to ride in a 'home' team. It's the same for the Australians, luckily now they have GreenEDGE. The more teams the better.

“It's always hard for riders to find teams,” he added. We are lucky because we are Belgians and have two Belgian teams. And we speak English! Our doctor can't speak Flemish, so, we speak English!"

Steegmans has since returned home to Monaco, where he will continue his preparation for the Classics, like the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in April. He wants to lead the team or help Tom Boonen win again and, despite not featuring at the top of any of the results in Australia, he feels he is right on course.

"The results don't show it, but I'm feeling good,” he said. “It's good because normally I am not racing this time of year.

"I always have big expectations, but I never say them,” he added. “I feel good and I want to have the best season ever. I am a sprinter and classics rider, and I'll never be a climber, it's a shame, but I'd have to lose 25kg and muscles. It can't happen, I like to eat too much!"


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