Tom Boonen wins inaugural Omega Pharma-Quick Step championship as team is presented
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tom Boonen wins inaugural Omega Pharma-Quick Step championship as team is presented

by Ben Atkins at 12:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Press and public attend velodrome launch at Eddy Merckx Cycling Centre in Gent, Belgium

Tom BoonenOmega Pharma-Quick Step (OPQS) was launched at a spectacular gala evening at the Eddy Merckx Cycling Centre in Gent, Belgium, which included racing from the team’s riders on the velodrome. Tom Boonen was crowned the first ever team champion, beating new teammate Mark Cavendish in the sprint competition, after the pair of them had seen off all opposition from the rest.

“When Patrick Lefevere talked with me about the arrival of Cavendish, I was immediately happy about it,” Boonen said of his new teammate. “I knew the skills of Mark and how strong he is. I think this year we can also collaborate well in a few races, such as Milan San Remo, or races where either one of us could go for the victory.”

Cavendish himself was equally pleased with his new home, having spent what turned out to be a frustrating year at Team Sky.

"For me, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step is the most traditional team out there, with the most historical roots," he said. "This team is steeped in the culture of cycling. Ask any young rider, especially the young classics rider what team they want to ride with. They will say OPQS without hesitation. To be a part of this dynasty is something. I am so excited for this opportunity.

"The Classics, the wins at the World TTT and the ITT — they were the most dominant team in the world," Cavendish added. "All that was missing was the Grand Tour stages, so that was the perfect opportunity for me to fit in this year."

Also included in the track programme was a head to head Derny Pursuit battle between race partners Iljo Keisse and Niki Terpstra, who recently won the Rotterdam Six-Day’s together. Despite a close race, Keisse - paced by former sprinter, now team trainer Tom Steels - came out on top over the Dutch champion.

"It was the perfect race," said Keisse. "It was a good start, and the last 10 laps were great. It is really fantastic to do the presentation on the track. Track is really the foundation of cycling and I think the fans will appreciate it."

During the team’s presentation to the press, OPQS board members were interviewed, including Owner Zdenek Bakala, Chairman Bessel Kok, and CEO Patrick Lefevere.

"2012 was a year that was spectacular in one aspect in particular, and that was the contrast with 2011," said Bakala. "When we all came together in 2011, we knew we had a job ahead of us restructuring the team. We set out with certain objectives, and we worked on accomplishing those objectives.  At the end of the second season — 2012 — we already managed to accomplish almost everything we wanted to in terms of our goals. It truly was the improvement of the team that was extremely successful and very spectacular."

On his hopes for 2013, Lefevere has one big aim for the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.

"I'd like for OPQS to be at the top of the world rankings," he said. "This means all of our riders reach their goals. We want to get to within the top three of the WorldTour rankings, as we were already 4th in 2012."


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