Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in the 100th Tour de France, which features 21 stages covering 3,479km from June 29th until July 21st. There are seven flat stages, five medium mountain stages, six mountain stages including four with summit finales, two individual time trials, and one team time trial. There are also two rest days.
“We have a strong team at the Tour de France,” said Rolf Aldag, Sport and Development Manager of OPQS. “Together with the sport directors we talked this morning with all the guys and they are really committed to the team goals. The team will be built mainly around Mark Cavendish. Cav is there to try and win stages, and of course one of the big goals of Mark is to go for the yellow jersey on the first day. This is something he missed for the moment — he has worn yellow before, but never after the first stage of the Tour. Mark will be able to count on the same leadout of the Giro d’Italia. They are already tested in race situations and will be ready again. Steegmans will be the last man, and Matteo Trentin will be the second to last man. But, all the team will be committed with Mark when the stage will fit his characteristics. Tony Martin will be there to ride to the ‘Flamme Rouge’ on the flat stages. He will bring Matteo, Gert and Cav into the best position possible in the final kilometer.”
Tony Martin, UCI World TT Champion, has other important reasons why he is at the 100th Tour de France.
“Tony will also be there to get his chances at the time trials,” Aldag said. “The first ITT will be a little more appropriate for his skills. The second will be difficult, but for sure he will still try his best. He will also be an important piece to our TTT as he is the world champion of this discipline, so we will rely on his strength to lead us during this stage.”
There is also young talent mixed with experienced riders within the OPQS Tour de France selection. Michal Kwiatkowski will be making his debut, and Trentin is another young rider participating.
“Kwiatkowski is the youngest guy of the team,” Aldag said. “We decided to bring him because it’s time to get this kind of experience, to try and wear the white jersey even for a limited time. It will be a kind of dream for him and of course a great achievement for the team. We will try to make it real, but without stress or pressure. He has to learn a lot and Le Tour will be another important step of his learning process. As for Matteo, he has shown his passion in his role already at the Giro d’Italia and his youth combined with enthusiasm will be valuable once again at his second grand tour of 2013.”
Two French riders will be ready to represent their country at the Tour de France in OPQS colors.
“The team can also count on Chavanel, who showed already what he is able to do: win stages and wear the yellow jersey,” Aldag said. “Chava will play a tactical role on the team. He will try to get his chances on stages more suitable for him. He’s a French guy, super motivated and also committed to the team work we are looking for from our riders. He’s a guy every team would like to have for a demanding race like the Tour de France. Another French guy will be Jerome Pineau, who has the task of staying with Mark in the mountain stages and to work for him on the flat stages to try to get the team to the sprint.”
The team is completed by Peter Velits and Niki Terpstra. They are both strong riders who have shown their ability to be protagonists in various race scenarios.
“We complete the team with the strong engines of Velits and Terpstra, who are important parts of the team,” Aldag said. “They will be valuable in the TTT and have the task of controlling the race in the flat stages. We will also see what they can do in other stages. With riders like this and experienced guys like them, you can always have something surprising with great actions.”
OPQS also made official the Tour reserves.
“Kevin De Weert and Martin Velits will be our reserves, so it will be important for them to stay focused and fit, so they will be ready if it will be necessary,” Aldag said.
OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere is confident in the 100th Tour de France selection, but emphasized the importance of teamwork rather than individual strength.
“We have for sure one of the best teams in the entire field at the Tour,” Lefevere said. “Mark counts on a committed team built around him. For the team, it will be also important to show themselves in any situation possible. With seven stages for the sprinters, one TTT and two ITT, we can be protagonists in almost half the stages in the Tour. That is without counting riders like Chavanel and Terpstra, who have the ability to play a role in medium mountain stages. The goals of the team are to try to win a few stages, be protagonists, and be a presence. The team wants to show its ability to stay united as a group. We believe the team is not only the sum of great individuals. What can make a difference for our team is the teamwork, to stay together and reach common goals as we did in the Giro d’Italia. I think when it comes to OPQS, we’ve shown how unique riders can fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Our Tour de France selection features eight nationalities of nine riders. We are an example of the globalization of cycling, and have already proven that such diversity can come together as a cohesive unit. We missed the victory at the Tour in the last few years. We really want to go for it and then see on the road day-by-day what kind of opportunities we can have.”
Riders: Mark Cavendish (GBR), Sylvain Chavanel (FRA), Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), Tony Martin (GER), Jerome Pineau (FRA), Gert Steegmans (BEL), Niki Terpstra (NED), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Peter Velits (SVK)