Omega Pharma -Quick-Step Cycling Team put on a show in Middelkerke at the 7km Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen Prologue on Friday, as Belgian National TT Champion Kristof Vandewalle won with a time of 8’09”, and his teammates were not very far behind.
Gert Steegmans, Niki Terpstra, Mark Cavendish, and Frantisek Rabon finished 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 10th respectively. Dries Devenyns, Iljo Keisse, and Julien Vermote also finished in the top 20. Vermote was the overall winner in 2012.
This is the 11th win, in three disciplines, for OPQS in 2013.
“It was an amazing performance today,” Sport Director Tom Steels said. “Quite exceptional for a team to do so well in such a short time trial. But, of course, we also have a very strong team here. We knew we had the talent to win, but sometimes in a race like this you never know. Someone can be unlucky and our competition was also very good. I have to say, Kristof was really strong today. In the last 2km he was going about 50km/h with a full on wind in front of him. He did a very good job.”
“As for the parcour, it was the same as last year,” Steels continued. “3.5km up, 3.5km down, wind in the same direction as last year as well. Tailwind in the first half, headwind in the second half. It’s not so difficult technically, so it is all about the power and the position. It’s not a difficult course, and the wind and the weather was almost the same during the whole race, which makes the result of the team also good because you can truly compare it to all the other riders. It was a really impressive day for the team.”
“It was great to win today, with it only being my fifth race of the season.” Vandewalle said. “To start winning like this is good. We started with a really strong team and we did a good warm up. We started warming up through motor pacing (derny) behind our bus driver Dirk Clarysse, which was 40km from the start. I think it was the right decision to do it like that. As for me, my condition was good for this race. But last week I became sick so it was one big question mark if I would be good today or not. So I had quite a good feeling when I started today, but did not come into this race expecting to have such a good result.”
Vandewalle said the Specialized Shiv TT bikes, and the materials provided by the OPQS technical sponsors, are an important part of such a strong team performance.
“Of course the bikes and materials we use are really good,” Vandewalle said. “We already saw last year, everyone performed really well during the time trials. Now again, this year, we have a big advantage with our bikes. Everyone has a really good measure on it, they are in good position on it, and they train a lot on it. That makes a big difference.”
As for the next days, Vandewalle said a win in the prologue should give the team good momentum.
“It’s good for the morale,” Vandewalle said. “Everyone performed really good and everyone was already motivated for this weekend. Now we have to perform in the next days. We will do our best to keep the leader’s jersey in the team. Hopefully we can come into the next races with a win. I think it can be two times a bunch sprint if the wind is not that strong in either stage. With a guy like Cavendish on the team we always have a good chance.”