Omega Pharma-Quick Step repeats in World Team Time Trial Championship by barely measurable margin
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Omega Pharma-Quick Step repeats in World Team Time Trial Championship by barely measurable margin

by Kyle Moore at 11:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, World Championships
 
Orica-GreenEdge beaten by 0.81 seconds in an edge-of-your-seat finale

Omega Pharma-Quick StepIt took 57 kilometres to separate two team time trialling powers, and even then, the separation was as thin as a razor’s edge. On the finish line in Florence, it was Omega Pharma-Quick Step who retained their title ahead of Orica-GreenEdge, by the scant margin of 0.81 seconds. The victory is a repeat title for the Belgian squad, which also won in a close race with BMC Racing last year.

The two teams who would decide the finish on Sunday have gone back and forth all year, with Orica-GreenEdge taking a narrow victory in the Tour de France.

On Sunday, the Australian team had a small lead throughout the middle portion of the race, but Omega Pharma-Quick Step had the advantage of the world time trial champion in their midst. Tony Martin led through the final kilometre and the team’s four remaining men spread out over the line, squeezing out every necessary tenth of a second.

Martin glanced back over the line and raised an arm in triumph, as the Orica-GreenEdge expressions went blank in disbelief from the leader’s chairs.

The race was expected to be a hot contest between at least five teams, as Sky Procycling, BMC Racing, and Radioshack-Leopard all presented squads that could compete for the title. Sky rode well early, but fell off the pace of the top two teams, as did BMC and Radioshack.

Sky posted the third best time at the finish to round out the podium, and BMC was forced down to fourth.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step rode the 56.8 kilometres in one hour, four minutes, 16.81 seconds. Orica-GreenEdge came in with the barely measureable deficit of 0.81 seconds. Sky Procycling finished 22 seconds back, and after that, it was a rout, with BMC more than a minute slower than the best mark.

Radioshack-Leopard, Astana, and Cannondale were the best of the rest, with Garmin-Sharp taking eighth, a full two minutes behind.

"We took a few risks, especially in the last ten kilometres, and sped it up because we knew we were a few seconds behind," Martin explained afterward. "We took the risk that we could either blow up or gain some time and we held the speed until the finish. We also took some risks in the corners. We were a second down in the last intermediate and we knew one corner can be the difference. So we just took the risk. We knew the corners perfectly. We made good preparation going into today, so we can also say it's really a win for the whole team. The sport directors who prepared us for the race today are included in this, especially in the last kilometers.

"The last intermediate time gap killed our morale a little bit, seeing the first gaps and then being down on Orica-GreenEdge going into the final kilometers. But we had sport directors in the car who built up our motivation again. Then we just gave everything, full risks in the last ten kilometers. At the end, it was enough. I think we won it with the big morale in the final. I think it is the same for the other riders on the team. In the last few hundred meters Tom Steels said 'go go go, take everything, you can be world champion,' and I think that gave us the last percentage of motivation to put all our power into the pedals. Sometimes one sentence can make the difference."

With more than 30 teams starting, organizers scheduled the heavy hitters for the second half of the race, with continental and developmental squads getting started first. The Slovenian team Adria Mobil and the Rabobank Development Team were the quickest of the early starters, until Vacansoleil-DCM and Lotto-Belisol got the WorldTour teams on the board with the best times.

Velo Club Slovac was the first team on the road, but the Algerian squad was second to finish, after being passed by Utensilnord Ora24.eu, which set the early mark at an hour and 12 minutes. Team Cult Energy shined during the Tour of Denmark, and rode well again in the TTT, lowering Utensilnord’s mark by three minutes. Cult Energy would eventually be topped by both Etixx-Ihned, Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s development team, as well as American squad Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies. While Lotto-Belisol, the second WorldTour team on course, blazed through with the fastest time at each check.

The baby-faced Rabobank Development team took over the hot seat later, and watched as Adria Mobil came in just behind them. With the bigger teams now well underway, Garmin-Sharp was the first team through the middle check that went quicker than Lotto-Belisol. Cannondale and Astana then powered through the first check, at 7km, virtually tied at the top, and Cannondale kept pace, with Peter Sagan pulling them through the second check, bettering Garmin-Sharp’s mark by 15 seconds.

They had a sparkling Vuelta a España, but FDJ.fr failed to threaten at any split, as the final teams to start were hitting the ramp. With the fastest course times projected to be around the hour mark, and with teams starting at intervals of 2’30”, the final hour of racing would be a frantic series of time check comparisons.

Not as frequently mentioned as a candidate for victory, Sky Procycling put themselves at the front of the field early, taking five seconds out on Cannondale at the first split. Orica-GreenEdge, BMC Racing, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step were all on course by 4:00 local time, and with Vacansoleil-DCM still coming up to their finish, the WorldTour chase was fully on.

At the finish, Rabobank Development continued to hang on, besting MTN-Qhubeka and CCC Polsat-Polkowice. Vacansoleil finally displaced Rabobank Devo, but their stay at the top would only last until Lotto-Belisol came through. At the middle time check, Astana and Cannondale remained close, just two seconds apart. Radioshack-Leopard was next through this mark, and became the third team essentially equal on time.

Meanwhile, Garmin-Sharp was finding its rhythm, taking out nearly a minute on Lotto-Belisol at the third check. Behind, Orica-GreenEdge had set the best time at the 7km point, but Omega Pharma-Quick Step landed the first real punch on the rest of the favourites, knocking ten seconds off the Australian squad.

Cannondale maintained through the third check, at 42km, with a time that was 17 ticks faster than Garmin-Sharp. Movistar and Belkin were bleeding time at every split and would not threaten overall, and Sky Procycling was breathing down their backs, hitting the middle check a half-minute quicker than previous leader Cannondale. Nearing their halfway points, GPS was showing Sky, BMC, Orica-GreenEdge, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step all within ten seconds of each other.

At the middle check, Orica-GreenEdge still had six men together, and bettered Sky’s pace by four seconds. Garmin-Sharp hit the finish line a full minute ahead of Lotto-Belisol and into the top slot, but the American squad was fighting a losing battle with so many favourites on fire behind. However they certainly left all their energy on the course, sending Christian Vande Velde off into the sunset with a brave ride.

With Radioshack-Leopard and Astana falling back, all eyes and watches turned to the final four teams on course. BMC was the first team to falter, losing 20 seconds on the watch to the other three squads. Orica-GreenEdge had the best time at the middle check, until once again, Omega Pharma-Quick Step came through having shaved off a few more seconds.

Sky Procycling was the next to fall off the pace, dropping 20 seconds behind Orica-GreenEdge and Omega Pharma-Quick Step on course. Orica-GreenEdge scheduled Jens Mouris’ pull-off first, but their remaining five continued to set a blistering pace, gradually pulling out a few seconds on Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

Cannondale kept pace to the finish, making their mark just under an hour and six minutes, 33 seconds faster than Garmin-Sharp. Radioshack-Leopard was topping all of Cannondale’s marks on course, but Fabian Cancellara’s squad continued to operate well behind the top four teams still remaining.

Saxo-Tinkoff came home outside the top times, as did Belkin Pro Cycling. Astana briefly grabbed the best time from Cannondale, shaking hands and taking the hot seat with just enough time to catch their breath, until Radioshack-Leopard came through a short moment later. Meanwhile, Orica-GreenEdge had the power fully turned up, taking 20 seconds on Sky at the 42km time check. This was more than 40 seconds faster than BMC at the same check, and more than a minute up on Radioshack-Leopard.

But Omega Pharma-Quick Step began to show why they were the defending champions. Tony Martin increased his pulls, and led his team over the third check point just 1.45 seconds slower than Orica-GreenEdge, and a photo finish seemed in order.

After finishing a close second a year ago, BMC Racing was less fortunate this year, bringing home four riders and eventually finishing off the podium in fourth. BMC’s slayer was Sky Procycling, which finished 55 seconds up on Radioshack-Leopard, with provisionally the best mark.

With both squads screaming toward the finish, GPS showed Orica-GreenEdge and Omega Pharma-Quick Step virtually equal on time. But the Belgian squad still had five men together in the slipstream of Martin, while Orica-GreenEdge was down to the required four. The Aussie quartet stuck together over the finish line, swiping 21 seconds from Sky. BMC was visibly struggling as they hit the finish straight, already behind Sky’s time and just trying to hold onto their spot ahead of Radioshack-Leopard, which they did, by 15 seconds.

This left just Omega Pharma-Quick Step on course, looking to make the comeback on Orica-GreenEdge. But they were down to four men, and Daryl Impey and Svein Tuft looked on as GPS showed the Belgian team just one second ahead of them. As it turned out, the computers had taken this check with just 200 metres to go.

Orica-GreenEdge sat dejected as Omega Pharma-Quick Step collapsed in a mix of exhaustion and elation, victors by less than a second.



World road race championships, Italy:


Men’s team time trial:

1, Omega Pharma Quick Step, 56.8 kilometres in 1 hour 4 mins 16.81
2, Orica GreenEdge, at 0.81
3, Sky Procycling, at 22.55
4, BMC Racing Team, at 1 min 2.71
5, RadioShack Leopard, at 1 min 17.53
6, Astana Pro Team, at 1 min mins 21.14
7, Cannondale Pro Cycling, at 1 min 28.74
8, Garmin-Sharp, at 2 mins 1.94
9, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, at 2 mins 14.17
10, Movistar Team, at 2 mins 31.03
11, Katusha, at 2 mins 45.80
12, Belkin Pro Cycling, at 2 mins 59.01
13, Lotto Belisol, at 3 mins 1.19
14, Team Argos-Shimano, at 3 mins 6.86
15, FDJ.fr, at 3 mins 19.38
16, Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling, at 3 mins 38.44
17, Lampre Merida, at 3 mins 56.31
18, Euskaltel Euskadi, at 3 mins 59.95
19, Rabobank Development Team, at 4 mins 28.79
20, Adria Mobil, at 4 mins 34.43
21, CCC Polsat Polkowice, at 4 mins 40.49
22, Topsport Vlaanderen Balois, at 4 mins 54.80
23, Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies, at 5 mins 9.48
24, AG2R La Mondiale, at 5 mins 18.92
25, Etixx-Ihned, at 5 mins 19.71
26, MTN Qhubeka, at 5 mins 20.60
27, Team Cult Energy, at 5 mins 27.50
28, Kolss Cycling Team, at 5 mins 27.99
29, Vini Fantini - Selle Italia, at 5 mins 28.99
30, Cyclingteam De Rijke - Shank, at 5 mins 42.36
31, BDC - Marcpol Team, at 6 mins 7.57
32, Team Gourmetfein Simplon, at 7 mins 13.42
33, Utensilnord Ora24.eu, at 7 mins 55.62
34, Cyclingteam Jo Piels, at 8 mins 34.65
35, Velo Club Sovac, at 11 mins 51.68

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