With the first rest day we complete the first week of La Vuelta. At the beginning it was unbelievably hot. The temperature was always around 40 degrees, So, the guys paid attention to not make mistakes outside the race as well as during the race. They had to focus on drinking enough, and also drinking the right things such as electrolytes to prevent dehydration. They also had to eat properly, which sometimes the heat makes it easy to think you are not hungry. But in a race like this, with heat making bodies work even harder on the bike, riders have to always keep their bodies fueled. It was a demanding race for riders and staff, as we had to always stay focused on keeping the riders recovering and ready for the next day.
As for our leader, Rigoberto Uran, we saw a very different Rigo in the second uphill finish of La Vuelta than we did on the first. It shows he is improving and we are confident for the next days. To be completely honest, tomorrow will be an important step for our team with both the possibility of a stage win and an improvement in the overall classification position of Rigo. It's not an easy parcours, but with Tony and Rigo we can do well. Our goal is to try and repeat the performance of the Giro TT. Rigo was able to build up his GC standing and also win the stage. We will try again, this time with Rigo to improve in the overall, and for Tony to aim for the stage win.
As for the competition, if you compare it with the Giro it seems all the big names are present. Froome and Contador are here, for example. But I am still convinced Rigo can repeat his good performance and be a factor in the GC. Then, after the TT, we will see where we will be and we will decide our strategy from that point.
The rest of the guys are doing well. Tom Boonen is doing very well, and is showing he's a real captain able to stay with Rigo, and also guide young guys like Carlos Verona at his first Vuelta.
Carlos is a good guy and a good rider, and he really did well yesterday in the breakaway. That was already the 2nd time he went into the breakaway at La Vuelta and it's only the first week. He's learning quickly and we are happy with him, as we are with the rest of the guys on the team. We're happy with the rest of the guys who showed a great team spirit in supporting Uran, as well as going for stage victories when possible.
We will go "Día a día" from here and see what we can do. There is still a lot of "Camino" to go until Santiago. It's up to the staff to keep the morale high, and give the right support and technical information to our riders as we enter the next week of La Vuelta.
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has reached an agreement with 25-year old David de la Cruz for the next 2 seasons (2015-2016).
Career highlights for the Spanish rider include a top 10 GC finish in the 2014 edition of AMGEN Tour of California after placing 2nd on the Mountain High finale of Stage 6.
The path to cycling for De la Cruz has been unique.
"I didn't know I had a talent for the sport until I was 18, when I started to ride my bike to the supermarket where I worked, after an injury," De la Cruz said. "One day I asked the local team guys if I could train with them and they said yes. That is where my career started. If you would have told me, at 18 years of age, that I would be riding for one of the best teams in the world by the time I was 25 I would have told you that you're crazy. Now I am here signing a contract with OPQS and I am proud and happy. I know a few of the guys from the team, especially Michal Kwiatkowski when we were teammates on Caja Rural. When I talked with Patrick Lefevere he explained that my role on the team would be to help the GC guys in the mountains, but that I can also be useful in the right moments. I will do all that I can to grow as a rider. No one can understand how happy I feel right now and I will do everything 100 percent to continue to develop as a rider on this team."
"We think this guy has his best years in front of him," OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere said. "He has already shown his potential the past two years, such as when he was 2nd on the queen stage at Tour of California. We knew about him and that he could be a rider that could strengthen the group of climbers we already have on the team. When I spoke with him, we came to an agreement quickly. I think he can be a factor in the climbs next year and we're happy to have him with us at OPQS."
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team went on the offensive in the 185km Stage 9 of La Vuelta a España on Sunday. First, Carlos Verona and Tom Boonen made the original breakaway of 31 riders. Then, Rigoberto Uran, led by Tony Martin, attempted to get a gap on other GC contenders to gain back some time late in the stage. The result was a 19th place finish for Uran, moving him up to 9th in the GC (+1'26") as there was a shift in the overall classification in a hectic final.
Three riders attacked out of the original breakaway — Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), Javier Moreno and Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida) — with about 19.3km to go in the stage. This was in anticipation of the summit finish following Cat. 2 Alto de San Rafael (11.5km, 4.2%). Those three had a 6 minute advantage over the peloton at the time, and they eventually got a decent gap on their former break mates.
Anacona went solo with 6km to go and he won the stage. Meanwhile, Uran and Martin had gone off the front with less than 10km to go, just before the final Cat. 1 ascent to the ski station at Valdelinares (8km, 6.6%). Those two caught up to Boonen still away after being in the original breakaway, and he helped pull for Uran with about 7km remaining. However, Team Sky led the peloton back to the move and it came down to a select group of GC contenders behind Anacona to determine who might wear the overall jersey going into the rest day.
Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) finished 2nd in the stage, and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) was 3rd.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) attacked inside 1.5km to go in hopes of wearing the red jersey, but Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) rode back to him by the final meters. The rest of the select group full of GC contenders was splintered behind them.
Quintana is now the overall leader by 3" over Contador.
"This morning there were several attacks, then around kilometer 30 I managed to enter in the big breakaway of 31 riders with Tom," Verona said "We took a good advantage, we knew after a while that the winner of the stage could be in the breakaway. Anacona was really strong, he did a great race. Concerning me, I still missed a bit of power after the crash of a few days ago, but the good thing is that I'm improving day by day and I really would like to be important in the next mountain stages for Rigoberto."
"Today I felt better compared with the first uphill finish of a few days ago," Uran said, "The weather was a bit crazy, we started with the hot temperature and we finished under the rain. The team today rode really well. We were present in the front with Tom and Carlos, and in the peloton the guys did a great job for me. For example, when Tony led me in the last descent to avoid risks. In general I'm OK and I feel that I'm improving. In the GC we are more or less where we were supposed to be at this time of the race. Now we have a well deserved day of rest and then the TT, where I have good expectations. I trained a lot with the my Specialized Shiv before La Vuelta and I'm looking forward to this race."more information
GP Ouest France - Plouay, with a new 229.1 parcours in 2014, came down to a small group of mostly French riders on Sunday, and young OPQS rider Julian Alaphilippe was among them. The race featured a big 26.9km circuit of eight-laps, and a final small circuit of 13.9 kilometers.
A seven rider group barely held off the peloton, with Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) winning the sprint out of the small group that went away with about 2km to go, following the last steep climb of the day: Cote de Ty Marrec, which was 4km from the finish line. The race came back together on that climb. Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) was 2nd, and Arthur Vichot (FDJ.FR) was 3rd. OPQS French rider Alaphilippe was 5th.
Michal Kwiatkowski originally attacked and formed a different seven-rider group that was caught on the final steep climb of the day. That group did not collaborate well in the final 10 kilometers. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) was a member of both the Kwiatkowski group and the Alaphilippe group that decided the stage. He repeatedly attacked in both groups.
OPQS went to the front on the final climb once Kwiatkowski was swept up by the peloton, and the first seven-rider group was also caught. That is when Alaphilippe was able to get into the crucial move of the stage.
"I'm happy about my race even if in the last kilometers I didn't have great legs," Alaphilippe said. "When Wellens accelerated I jumped on his wheel and I tried to work with him, but I couldn't. I didn't have enough left in my legs. I still gave everything in the sprint and I finished 5th. To me, it's a great satisfaction, even if I could have done better than this with a little more left in the tank at the end. But Plouay is a long and nervous race, and in the final you have to be fresh. It's a matter of training and improving, and of course it's also a question of experience. I will work day-by-day to improve in these kind of races. Now, I will try to keep the condition and do well in the Canadian races."
"As a team we rode well," Sport Director Tom Steels said. "The guys were always present in the good actions of the race. The presence of Kwiatkowski in the 7 rider breakaway allowed the other guys to save energy for the final. At the end Julian was 5th, which is a great result for such a young rider in a demanding race. We know that he can do well in these races. Also, Gianni Meersman did a good sprint behind and he barely missed the top ten for 11th position. Considering everything it was a good race for us."
Belgian based Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team used the crosswinds to their advantage once again, this time keeping themselves in the front group formed by crosswinds in the final 30km of 207km La Vuelta a España Stage 8 on Saturday.
Tom Boonen finished 9th in the sprint out of the group, after being led out by two teammates going into the final kilometer. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) won the stage, with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) placing 2nd and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) finishing 3rd.
Boonen and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factor Racing) worked hard on the front with about 28km to go, and it became clear that the two riders known for their Classics prowess were helping to take advantage of anticipated crosswinds. The peloton quickly splintered into echelons. Eventually groups 1 and 2 rejoined, but a split formed once again in the final kilometers. A chase group including Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) had to go full gas to rejoin the lead group with 5.2km to go. Several OPQS were still present and able to contest the flat stage finale.
Rigoberto Uran was kept safely in the front group, finishing 23rd. Nikolas Maes helped to lead out Boonen. Wout Poels and Pieter Serry were also present in the front group for OPQS.
OPQS looks next to a high mountain stage on Sunday. 185km Stage 9 includes a Category 1 summit finish.
"Today I think we did a good job," Boonen said. "At 30 kilometers to go we knew there would be a crosswind. So, after a left turn we sped up and then we had good collaboration on the front. I had a good feeling going into the sprint but in the final probably we were too much in the front to win. At a race like La Vuelta you have to do everything perfectly to get the victory. The power was definitely there for us, but the execution was not perfect in the final. In any case I felt really good, like I could speed up easily. This gives me motivation and I am looking forward to the next stages. I will work in favor of Uran when it will be necessary, and then I will look for another chance for a stage in the next days of La Vuelta."
"It wasn't an easy stage," Uran said. "Sometimes it's like that, where a flat stage can be more dangerous than an uphill finish. You have to play close attention. Fortunately we have a team that knows how to ride in the wind. Guys like Nikolas Maes and Tom Boonen are big guys who can keep me protected from the wind and present in the front group. It wasn't easy to stay in the front, but for sure with guys like them it helps tremendously. Tomorrow we have the second uphill finish of La Vuelta. It's a climb I know. Our goal is to try and stay in the front and go with a good GC position into the time trial."more information