OPQS has announced the selection that will participate in Il Lombardia, a 248km one-day race on Sunday, the 5th of October. The final cycling monument of the 2014 season includes climbs such as Madonna del Ghisallo (8.58km, 6.2% average gradient, 14% max ramp), Colle Gallo (7.43km, 6% average gradient, 10% max ramp), Passo di Ganda (9.2km, 7.3% average gradient, 15% max ramp), and Berbenno (5.5km, 5.3% average gradient, 10% max ramp). In the final 5.2km of the race there is a short uphill section of 7.9% average gradient, and a max ramp of 12 percent. There is also pavé in this final climb. There is then a descent into a flat finale.
This Sunday will also be the first time that 2014 UCI World Road Champion Michal Kwiatkowski will wear his rainbow jersey for OPQS.
"The last days were a little bit hectic," Kwiatkowski said. "I went home after a great welcome at the Warsaw airport. My family and my girlfriend were there, along with many journalists and supporters. It was really nice to meet all those people and see how huge cycling has become in Poland. To be honest I still have to realize what I did. I'm still in shock, even now. When I think about that race, after the finish I was really confused because it was so incredible. It's like when you dream during the night and then everything comes true. It's something I am still processing. The last days of my life have been completely different than before. It's really nice and I probably will realize what I've truly done when I wear the rainbow jersey at the start of Il Lombardia. About Il Lombardia, I've never been able to finish it. I got sick last year the night before the start. So with this jersey, I at least have to do better than last year (laughs). To me it's beautiful to show my jersey for the first time in a monument. Let's see what I can do considering all the great emotions I've had in the last days. Of course I will try to do my best to honor the race and the jersey."more information
24-year-old Michal Kwiatkowski, isolated for Poland after his teammates gave everything on the front to chase down breakaways earlier in the race, gained a golden reward for an enormous risk. Kwiatkowski attacked with 6.9km to go, in anticipation of a final climb (1.1km, 6.6% average gradient) and then a descent to a flat finale of the 254.8km UCI World Road Championship on Sunday.
The move was perfectly timed. Kwiatkowski went on to win gold despite the best effort of the riders behind him. A small group of favorites tried to chase him down in the final kilometers. Several national teams had multiple riders still present in the peloton, but the gap was too much to hope the race ended in a bunch sprint, which forced a select group to chase down Kwiatkowski. He was able to hold the elite group behind him off in the final meters to become world road champion for the first time in his career.
"Our team did incredible work today," Kwiatkowski said of his Polish teammates. "We just tried to control the bunch the whole day. I was in the front and I didn't plan to attack on the second-to-last descent. But I saw the opportunity to be in the group in front, which had five riders at that point before the last climb. I caught them and could relax a bit, and control my effort on the last climb. Even a small advantage on the last climb can be difficult to chase down a rider like me from there. I saw it was possible from the Under-23 race before, that it's possible to make it. I'm not the best sprinter compared to guys like Simon Gerrans and Alejandro Valverde, but in the end it worked and it is an incredible feeling. I think for Polish cycling this is really important to have a beautiful victory like this. This season has been amazing for Poland with Rafal Majka and his performance at the Tour de France for example. Now I have this rainbow jersey, and it's an amazing feeling. I told the guys at a meeting yesterday that I felt great and I said it again at the start of the race. I really needed support from them and they did it all the time. I felt relaxed all day. With these weather conditions it was important to stay in front. This made it much easier for me to have such great help from my teammates. It kept me comfortable and gave me big energy at the end. I have to thank them, and I have to also dedicate this to my girlfriend Agata and the Polish nation as they give me such big morale, and I am so proud to give this back to them."
The Polish rider's victory is the 65th (63rd road) overall for OPQS, in three disciplines, in 2014. He is also the first Polish rider in UCI history to win road gold, and only the third in OPQS history to earn the rainbow jersey on the road after Tom Boonen in 2005, and Paolo Bettini in 2006 and 2007. OPQS also won the 2014 bronze medal in the TTT event, and silver in the ITT with Tony Martin.
"I am only 24-years-old, but in the second half of the season I just felt great until now and it showed in the final kilometers," Kwiatkowski said. "At 1.5 kilometers to go it felt like so much left to go, but what can I say. I saw guys coming, I had a little bit of an advantage, and I knew it was all or nothing. I went full gas and I made it after a really risky attack. In the end, it worked, and I am going to celebrate this victory. I also want to thank Omega Pharma – Quick-Step as they have always had confidence in me and because of this growth as a rider with them, I believed I could win with this kind of attack on the last lap. I should ask Tom Boonen what his life was like after winning the World Championship in 2005. I was 15-years-old when he won in Madrid. I am so proud to be the third OPQS rider to wear the rainbow stripes on the road. It shows the winning tradition of this team."
"Today for the team, and especially for me it's a great emotion," OPQS CEO Patrick Lefevere said. "Michal is a rider who really grew up on our team. We always believed in him. He's a great guy, and today we are all incredibly happy for him. The first time I met him was 2008, and immediately he impressed me with his character and his talent. Michal and the entire Polish team did a great job today. It was strong, but also intelligent racing. He chose the right opportunity to go and, to me, at the finish following the race it was one of the most emotional moments of my career. Congratulations to him and all of OPQS is so proud of him today."more information
OPQS has announced the selection that will participate in Tour de l'Eurométropole, a 688.3km, four-stage race from October 2nd until October 5th.
All four stages are less than 200 kilometers, with none considered to be flat. Stage 2, 171km in total distance, is the less undulating of the stages, while the final 155km stage ends in a circuit.
"It's one of the last races of the season but the team is very motivated," Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. "Most of the race is in West Flanders where we have our service course and it's on roads we know really well, particularly from the Classics. The first stage will immediately be a challenge, with quite a few climbs in the parcours and a slight uphill finish. The second stage we will have to face a few climbs of Gent-Wevelgem, for example the Kemmelberg and Monteberg. The third stage will be near the sea, so it will be dangerous for echelons as wind can be a factor. Bad weather can really change the conditions of the race. The fourth and last stage is a difficult circuit where the general classification can be made. We have a competitive team ready for this race. Our young guys like Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Julien Vermote, and Andrew Fenn will be motivated to do well mixed in with expert riders like Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh, Zdenek Stybar, Martin Velits, and Thomas De Gendt."more information
Zdenek Stybar has decided to prolong his 2014 season by a few days before the winter break.
The World Cyclocross Champion will close out his season on the road with the Tour de l'Eurometropole; however, he will also take part in the first two cyclocross events for the season, the BPost Bank Trofee Ronse on October 12th and the Ardooie Cyclocross on October 16th.
"The accident I had at the Eneco Tour made me miss the better part of the road season," said Stybar. "This is why at the end of the season I still have the motivation to race. When I was offered the chance to race in the first two cross events of the season I jumped at it. It will be wonderful to wear the rainbow jersey, jump on my Specialized CruX and compete. I can't wait. I have the same feeling you get when you have a convertible car in the garage and you can't wait for the first rays of sun to come out so you can drive it, even if it's still winter! I really want to enjoy these two cross events and then disconnect for a while before the start of the new season."
Stybar also reflected on the 2014-2015 cross season.
"It's still too soon right now to say where I'll be and how much I'll race during next winter," Stybar said. "We'll make up a schedule with the team like we did last year that will allow me to line up for the start of some cross races before the road racing season gets underway."
The three-time Elite World Champion in cyclocross also commented on the World title won by his teammate Michal Kwiatkowski.
"What we saw yesterday was amazing," Stybar said. "He was extremely strong on a mental level and he had a great team to back him up. Perhaps some people were wondering why Poland was working so hard in the head of the group, but those of us who ride with him know that when he's in form, Michal likes racing ahead. On Saturday when I saw the route I immediately thought it was a great route for him but the way in which he did it was fantastic. He won with style and class, proving that he is one of the strongest athletes in the group – actually, yesterday he was the strongest."
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the 10 riders who will line up at the start of the 254.8km UCI World Road Championship on Sunday. The undulating, 18.2km Ponferrada circuit includes two ascents: One is 5.1km, with an average gradient of 3.5%, while the second climb is 1.1km at 6.6% average gradient. There is a max ramp of 11% along the parcours. There is also descent into a flat finale.
The OPQS riders who will participate include the following:
Belgium: Tom Boonen, Jan Bakelants
Poland: Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski
Colombia: Rigoberto Uran
Slovakia: Martin Velits
Germany: Tony Martin
Czech Republic: Zdenek Stybar, Petr Vakoc
Netherlands: Wout Poels
“We’re proud to have 10 strong riders at the start on Sunday,” OPQS Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag said. “This kind of parcours suits several of our riders very well. We can be protagonists whether the race ends in a breakaway, or a bunch sprint. Almost every rider selected has at least one victory this season, and several have been on a parcours like this. The OPQS riders selected include veterans such as Tom Boonen — a former world champion — and also young guys like Petr Vakoc, who is racing in his first professional World Road Championship. We want to wish good luck to all our riders from seven different countries, which demonstrates the Belgian roots and international impact of OPQS.”