Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders chasing national championship titles all over Europe
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Omega Pharma-Quick Step riders chasing national championship titles all over Europe

by Ben Atkins at 2:38 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, National Championships
 
Grabsch, Brammeier and Chavanel defending; Chavanel going for fourth TT jersey; Boonen aiming for a second road one

matt brammeierOmega Pharma-Quick Step will be sending a number of riders to the various national championship races in Europe this week. Some riders will be defending their titles, like German time trial champion Bert Grabsch and Irish road and time trial champion Matt Brammeier, while most will be hoping to retake a title they previously held, or win it for the first time.

One rider that will not be going for his national title however, will be World time trial champion Tony Martin, who will sit out the German races as he heads to the Tour de France.

“I'm really sorry that I can't be there for the start of the race," Martin expained, "but I want to concentrate on recuperating and training so I can be at my best for the Tour de France, which will be opening with a time trial prologue, no less."

Sylvain Chavanel is the reigning French road champion but the rider, who turns 33 years old on the first day of the Tour, is concentrating most on taking a fourth title against the clock on Thursday.

“It's no secret that I would like to do well in the time trial," said Chavanel. “This year I have started feeling like I used to, and in the time trial for the Tour de Dauphiné that gave me an awareness of what I can do."

Jérôme Pineau will also ride the French time trial, and both will line up for the road race on Sunday.

Despite being the reigning road and time trial champion, Brammeier missed out on selection to the Irish team for the Olympic Games. Despite the disappointment, the 27-year-old aims to try to hold on to his titles.

"The objective is to ride a good race," said Brammeier. “One of the most intimidating adversaries will be Roche, who proved to be in top form at the Tour de Suisse.”

Elsewhere, both Zdeněk Štybar and Frantisek Rabon will be aiming for the Czech titles, while Martin and Peter Velits will be going for the Slovak ones. Since the two countries were formerly united, as Czechoslovakia, the two titles will be contested in the same race, with a separate classification for each. Michal Kwiatkowski will be fighting for the Polish time trial championships on Thursday, and will be joined in Sunday’s road race by Michal Golas.

The Italian races happen in reverse order to the rest of Europe, with Matteo Trentin, Marco Bandiera and Dario Cataldo all lining up for Saturday’s road race. Sunday’s time trial will also see Cataldo and Trentin take part, with the latter having the honour of racing in his home town of Borgovalsugana.

By far the biggest race for Omega Pharma-Quick Step however, will be the Belgian one in Geel on Sunday, where all eleven of the team’s Belgians will take part. Lining up with Classics king Tom Boonen will be Kevin De Weert, Dries Devenyns, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Serge Pauwels, Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Stijn Vandenbergh, Kristof Vandewalle, and Julien Vermote.

"It will be a nice race,” said Boonen. “The team is very strong and we can count on many men at the starting line. Wearing the National jersey for the second time in my career — close to home — would be a dream come true, but it won't be easy. However on the team there are other athletes who could win this race.”

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