OP-QS/Yuzuru Sunada

26-Feb-2014: Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in Belgium’s opening weekend: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

OPQS had a good Omloop Het Nieuwsblad performance in 2013, as Stijn Vandenbergh made it into the breakaway. He finished 2nd in a two-up sprint.

In 2014, there is the important return of the Muur-Kapelmuur. Excluded from the previous three editions of the race, it will be passed at the 81km mark in the 69th edition. There are several short sections ranging from steep to false flat, and some are cobbled while some are on asphalt. The Wolvenberg is on asphalt, but has a max ramp of 17% in 800 meters at kilometer 145. Then there is Haaghoek at the 154 kilometer mark. The challenge at Haaghoek is the cobbles that riders must pass. The weather could add an extra challenge to the parcours.

“Omloop is first race of the season in Belgium,” Tom Boonen said. “Everyone is excited about it. It’s a race a bit different from the other Classics because it’s the first one, but also tactically the teams tend to ride it differently than how they do the other cobbled Classics. There are a lot of riders in good condition and there will be a great fight to stay in the front. But we have a good and balanced team, and we are looking forward to this race to try and get a good result. As usual the wind will be a factor. It will influence the race for sure.”

“It’s the first time this year that we hit the roads of Flanders,” Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. “It’s a really good team but it will be important to be in the final with the most riders possible. We will have a competitive team but also several other teams have good selections. There is also a chance for a few showers and it will be windy, so the weather will be important to determine what kind of race we will face.”

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne takes place on Sunday, returning after its cancellation in 2013 due to snow. One of the more famous climbs of this race is the Oude Kwaremont (2.2km, max ramp of 11%). There is also the Cote du Trieu, which has several ramps of 13 percent. However, this race can be one for the bunch finale.

“We have a very good group,” Peeters continued. “Last year we didn’t do the race due to the snow, but this year there will be no problem. In general  our team is on a good level. All riders are good for this kind of parcours and we are ready for all scenarios. There could be a breakaway or a small group, or even a bunch sprint. We have the possibility to put good riders in place for any situation.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (BEL)

Riders
Tom Boonen (BEL)
Iljo Keisse (BEL)
Gert Steegmans (BEL)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE)
Niki Terpstra (NED)
Matteo Trentin (ITA)
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL)
Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL)

Sports Director
Wilfried Peeters (BEL)

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (BEL) 1.1

Riders
Tom Boonen (BEL)
Andrew Fenn (GBR)
Nikolas Maes (BEL)
Niki Terpstra (NED)
Matteo Trentin (ITA)
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL)
Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL)
Martin Velits (SVK)

Sports Director
Wilfried Peeters (BEL)
Tom Steels (BEL)