OPQS Returns Home from Slovak Training

Mission accomplished! The Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling team-building camp, which took place on a military base in Lest, Slovakia, has wrapped up after two intensely busy days.

The team’s athletes and staff were divided into 8 “mission” teams of six or seven members, who challenged each other in a series of physical tests and ability trials under the ever vigilant watch of stationed military officers.

The intense — yet fun — agenda consisted of obstacle courses, defense techniques, climbing, shooting simulation, orienteering, and rescue activities.

“In these two days we have reached the goals we set out for ourselves,” said Tom Steels, the man behind this team building initiative. “The guys showed an immense spirit of sacrifice, helping each other achieve tasks and spending the night together in a bivouac, sleeping in sleeping bags. Compared to last year, we spent more time focusing on technical challenges and the concept of collaboration. For example, the guys simulated rescue operations to help wounded civilians, practicing emergency intervention techniques such as bandaging, transporting wounded people on gurneys, and rescue on rough terrain, which forced the teammates to work as a close knit group. At the same time, each member of the team shared their own individual skills with the rest of the group. Some of them were stronger in the physical tests; others did better in the technical trials, which included a night time orienteering activity that was far from simple. It was a unique experience made possible thanks to our sponsor janom, who backed the event wholeheartedly, and all the personnel on the military base who not only were incredibly prepared technically, but who also did a great job relating to our guys. I think that our activities and the personal commitment shown by the people at the base proved how a military context can interact with a civilian reality.”

The team’s athletes are also very happy.

“It was a lot of work, but gratifying,” said in unison Martin and Peter Velits, the two Slovakians on the team. “We also got the chance to get to know our teammates and the newcomers better, in a context that was unfamiliar to all of us, a situation in which unity meant strength.”

“Over the course of the season we are often going to find ourselves in difficult situations,” said Kevin De Weert. “The fact that we know we can count on one another will help us to overcome the difficult times in a race, like we did during these two days.”

“I didn’t know what to expect from these activities,” said Tony Martin. “I started out a little skeptical, but then my teammates got me involved, and I ended up having a lot of fun. I’d like to thank all the personnel at the base, who were very professional but at the same time were really attentive to our needs. All the activities, even the most challenging ones, were performed in complete safety under their reassuring, expert supervision. This is definitely an experience worth repeating!”

Next year’s date has already been set in an unknown location. “It’s not so important where we do it as how we do it,” Steels said. “But now it’s time to think about bike training and the new season!”

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