Multiple captains for Omega Pharma Quick Step team in Amstel Gold Race
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Multiple captains for Omega Pharma Quick Step team in Amstel Gold Race

by VeloNation Press at 2:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
Kwiatkowski, Terpstra, Velits and Meersman to work together for best possible result

Michal KwiatkowskiMuch has been said about the chances of Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team), two riders who are clearly in form, for tomorrow’s Amstel Gold Race, but a team that has the collective strength to pull off a surprise result is the Omega Pharma Quick Step team.

Having been in the running for Paris-Roubaix success last weekend until mishaps took Zdenek Stybar and Stijn Vandenbergh out of contention, the squad is hoping to bounce back with big performances in the first of the Ardennes Classics.

The lineup includes Michal Kwiatkowski, Niki Terpstra, Peter Velits and Gianni Meersman and with those four capable of pulling off an upset if things play out well tactically, they will seek to use their collective strength to the best possible advantage.

Kwiatkowski showed fine form earlier this year when he finished second in the Volta ao Algarve and fourth in Tirreno Adriatico. He’s a strong climber and has worked hard to be in condition for tomorrow. “After the Ronde I was at home in Poland for four days and then on Friday I flew to Granada where I joined my teammates who are training there,” he said.

“I had few days of good training and I was surprised about the fact that I'm still okay after a long period of races. Honestly I don't know what I can expect from this race. I'm okay but during the race a lot of things can happen."

“I did last year Amstel, Fleche and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but I couldn't finish any race there. But I'm happy I did it — the team was right last year to send me here so now I know the roads that in a race like Amstel are really important.”

Terpstra has had a busy spring and has been performing at a good level. He sprinted to third last Sunday in Paris-Roubaix and also finished in the same position in the Driedaagse de Panne and also the Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen.

“After Roubaix I took four days off without really training, because of the bad weather. I'm not completely recovered from last Sunday, but I love this race and I will try to do my best,” he promised.

“It's my home race and I have some extra motivation. The weather will be good and there will be big crowds on the roads. The last part of the race is almost the same as the Worlds.”

The Dutchman would really like to perform strongly, and believes the changes to the route could help him in that task. “I like this final, it gives opportunities for more riders to win,” he said. “On the top of the Cauberg only three riders can win, but now you can try and play tactically ... attack before, or wait for the bunch sprint.

“I think a rider in good condition can win even if he's not among the favourites. I will start without pressure trying to do my best as usual.”

He added that if he is not on a good day that he will ride for the team, drawing on his experience of the circuit to help them as best as possible.

Velits is encouraged by his recent sensations, as well as some of the results he has clocked up. These include third on a stage plus tenth overall in Paris-Nice plus his runner-up slot on stage one of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco

“At Pais Vasco I was pretty good. I was second in a stage and present in a long breakaway. Only one day I was struggling, but for the rest it was good,” he said. “Pais Vasco gave me a few good signals for the upcoming races, even if a one day race is different from a short stage race.

“But I'm motivated. On these roads we became World Champions last year with the team [in the team time trial – ed]. Today during the training on the Cauberg I was thinking about it. I hope it's going to be a good race for the team. Here we can play with more cards and we will try to go with some results.”

Meersman is also motivated, particularly after winning two stages in the recent Volta a Catalunya, and knows that his fast finish could be very useful if there is a group racing for the line tomorrow. However he admits that he’s not quite sure how his form is. “In the last two weeks I trained very well in Calpe. The problem is that I didn't ride Pais Vasco due to stomach problems, so I've not been racing for about the last three weeks,” he explained.

“This is a demanding race, you have to be always in the front. You cannot sleep on these kind of roads. In the Worlds last year I was also in the breakaway and than in the circuit I rode in the front for the National Team, so I really have good memories. The fact that the finish is the same of the Worlds can help the riders with my skills. If I have the legs in the final I can do better than in the previous finish at the top of the Cauberg.”


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