A two-time winner of the gold medal in the team time trial at the World Championships, Etixx – Quick-Step has selected its riders for the opening race of the competition which is held in the capital of Qatar, Doha, on a flat parcours: Bob Jungels, Marcel Kittel, Yves Lampaert, Tony Martin, Niki Terpstra and Julien Vermote, while Lukasz Wisniowski is named as reserve.
Between them, these riders have scored 21 victories for Etixx – Quick-Step in the current season and are all coming to Qatar in a strong condition and fully motivated to help the Belgian team regain the top honours in the collective discipline against the clock, knowing that a triumph would make Etixx – Quick-Step the most successful team since the event was introduced at the World Championships.
“We arrived here with seven riders, because all of them were in good condition and you never know when one gets sick and you need another one to replace him,” said Directeur Sportif Tom Steels.
“Following our training sessions of Friday and today, we came to a decision and picked six guys for tomorrow. Three of these riders – Tony, Niki and Yves – were part of the squad also last year, when we came very close of taking the win.”
“With the addition of Bob, Julien and Marcel, who put in an impressive ride recently in both the individual and team time trial at the Eneco Tour, we can count on a solid and experienced group.”
Having been on the podium of all previous edition, Etixx – Quick-Step will start as one of the favourites, but as Tom Steels was quick to point out, the fight for victory will be fierce under the scorching sun of Qatar: “Besides the heat, which will play a major role, we must pay special attention to the wind, which is really strange here: you are expecting it to come from one direction, but it surprises you by coming from a different one, so it’s very important to guide the riders in these situations.”
“The corners are another tricky part of the race, but we worked on it and we are confident, while the final part will be all about strength and power. There’s no secret that we are setting off with the goal of taking the victory, but I can easily think of several other teams who have the same thought in mind, so it ain’t going to be a walk in the park.”