La siguiente entrada del blog es de Petr Vakoc, quien está participando en el Giro de Italia por primera vez en su carrera profesional.
Estaba muy emocionado cuando me enteré de que me seleccionaron para el Giro! Mi primera gran vuelta... fue un poco una sorpresa para mí, ¡pero una muy buena! Por supuesto que sabía que iba a ser duro, el Giro es una carrera difícil, pero es muy bonita también. Yo realmente no sabía qué esperar. Pero aun así superó mis expectativas. También el ambiente de la carrera es increíble, incluso mejor de lo que había imaginado.
Las primeras etapas que disputamos fueron montañosas desde la salida hasta el final y no ha habido ninguna etapa fácil todavía. Pero ha sido también precioso. Me gusta realmente correr en Italia y hay mucho público viendo la carrera. ¡Y correr para Rigoberto Urán y apoyarlo es realmente un honor! Me gusta mucho correr con él, es muy profesional, pero también es un tío muy simpático. Nos divertimos mucho, en la bicicleta, ¡pero también fuera de la bicicleta!
La "menor" diversión ha sido la 7ª etapa, la etapa más larga del Giro, tuvimos un fuerte viento en contra, fue muy larga. :-) Después de la primera semana en el Giro debo decir que me encanta Italia. ¡La comida es increíble! Pasta, pasta, pasta, ¡me encanta! Además, el paisaje aquí en hermoso, pero tengo que decir que lo mejor de estar aquí en Italia es el ambiente. ¡La gente es increíble aquí!
Pienso que podemos estar muy contentos con los resultados de mi equipo. Empezamos ganando con Mark Cavendish en Argentina y la tendencia no se detuvo. Después de Argentina ganamos en Dubai, Qatar, después en Algarve, y ganamos la Kuurne-Bruselas-Kuurne. Tuvimos una pequeña derrota táctica en el Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, pero es bueno ser batido para tener los pies en el suelo.
A continuación, tuvimos una victoria en el prólogo de la París-Niza. Los triunfos continuaron, así como varios segundos puestos. Por supuesto que preferiríamos ganar, pero casi siempre estábamos al final. En la Milán-San Remo, Kwiatkowski y Stybar se cayeron en la bajada del Poggio. Si no hubiera sido por la mala suerte, habríamos tenido la oportunidad de ganar o subir al podio allí también. Gante-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke, Flandes y Roubaix, todas las Clásicas de los Adoquines, así como las clásicas de las Ardenas, casi nunca estuvimos fuera del podio o ganamos. No creo que ningún otro equipo haya hecho lo mismo.
Creo que el espíritu de equipo es bastante bueno. Vi un equipo centrado, y si quieres ganar o ser protagonista, tienes que estar por delante y un poco nervioso. Si todo el mundo está demasiado relajado, puedes estar seguro que no tendrás resultados. En las carreras del Norte no tuvimos a Tom Boonen, que es realmente el líder del equipo. Así que esto dio la oportunidad para que los otros chicos tomaran la responsabilidad y lo hicieron muy bien. También descubrimos algunos jóvenes talentos, como Yves Lampaert. Otros como Niki Terpstra y Zdenek Stybar confirmaron lo que ya sabíamos sobre ellos. Podios clave en las Clásicas de los Adoquines. En las Clásicas de las Ardenas parecíamos ser más débiles en esas carreras y creo que tuvimos la mejor temporada en la historia del equipo. El Campeón Mundial Kwiatkowski ganó la Amstel Gold Race y Julian Alaphilippe fue gran el descubrimiento de la temporada hasta ahora. Fue séptimo en la Amstel Gold Race, y después segundo en la Flecha Valona y Lieja-Bastogne-Lieja a los 22 años de edad, y en su primera vez en esas carreras.
Teniendo en cuenta todas estas cosas, soy un mánager feliz. Estamos en el puesto número uno en el UCI WorldTour por una razón, y es porque somos el único equipo que puede decir que hemos ido por la victoria en todo tipo de situaciones, desde enero hasta finales de abril.
¡Sigamos adelante con esta tensión y con buen ánimo en las próximas carreras!
Not bad for a team who has too much second places only 21 victories @Etixx_QuickStep #OurWay happy man so far that's total team effort— Patrick Lefevere (@PatLefevere) April 27, 2015
Neo-pro Lukasz Wisniowski is in his first year with the team, after riding for the Etixx and Etixx-iHNed continental teams in the previous years. In the blog below he talks about his first races, and gives a little bit of an introduction to fans who might not know him well yet.
First of all I have to say I feel really comfortable on this team. I know I'm a new rider, but I already settled in with the riding and the atmosphere. Etixx – Quick-Step is like family, so I feel really good. This atmosphere also shows in the racing so far at Dubai Tour and Tour de San Luis. There's always good cooperation with each other all day at the races. I have to say after the first races, I am a bit tired. These were my first races as a professional rider and my job is to pull at the front. To do that for the first time at this level of racing, it is a lot out of the legs. There were also long climbing stages, hard stages, which don't suit my skills. But there is something also that many young guys don't realize until they become a pro. With the younger, lower levels of racing, the tempo is usually always the same. At the professional levels so far I've noticed at the beginning it is very fast, then it eases up, but the end of the stage it is really full gas. That is an adjustment for me at the moment. It's a big difference. But I am so proud to be here and this is simply part of growing up as a rider.
I am also proud to be on Etixx – Quick-Step as one of three Polish riders, along with UCI World Road Champion Michal Kwiatkowski and Michal Golas. Half of the team that I've raced with so far has been Polish! But regardless of nationality, it is an honor to ride with guys like Mark Cavendish, and other veterans. I can learn a lot from all the guys that are on this team. After all, they won more than 60 races last year with almost 20 different riders. Step-by-step I have to learn everything, and start with the basics. But with a team like this I am learning the basics from the best. It helps that they are nice to me, and always informing me and guiding me. The staff is the same. The whole team gives me feedback, whether I do something right or wrong. I have to learn either way. I am always being taught something before, during, and after races. It's really perfect and I feel like I probably learn more in a week than some riders might learn in a season.
In my first week of racing in Argentina my roommate was Guillaume Van Keirsbulck. Thankfully we listen to the same time of music, because he listens to a lot of it. We don't speak about the races too much, we kept our minds free when we are not on our bikes. Maybe I am not so much a video game fanatic like he is, and sometimes I am too tired to play a game, but I also like to play, so we get along in that way as well.
The people who come to watch the races are really interesting too. In the races I've done in the past there were only a few people there. But for example in Argentina there was a crowd. It's new for me, it's a lot of people screaming. It's a bit of an extra motivation.
But the professional world may not be familiar with me yet as I am new in the peloton. For those of you who don't me or my riding style yet: I'm not a climber, but I like really hard terrain with a lot of ups and downs. I like the climbs no longer than a kilometer. I like the crosswinds too. Even though I'm Polish I really like the Classics kind of parcours, or the French races. Those are also really windy and hilly too. Races in Holland are also suited for me. Even though they're flat, I love racing in the wind. I guess you could say I am a rider for the windy races, which fits perfectly in Etixx – Quick-Step. I know we are considered masters of the crosswind. I hope to contribute to that legend with my strengths.
Well, that is all from me! I hope the cycling world can get to know me more this season as I continue to develop as a young guy in the peloton.
It's the first time for me here in Dubai, it's actually more breathtaking than I imagined before coming here!
The first day we went just for a short lap of training. It was nice, no traffic. It was on a track of seven kilometers where we did some laps. The weather was beautiful.
Yesterday we did the recon of Stage 3 in Hatta Dam, which is where you have to pass the border of Oman.
We went to do the team presentation yesterday, this was like I've never seen before. Such a great show.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do at this race!
I haven't had much chance to talk about last year, which was my first as a pro. It was a lot of experience, a lot of learning, some good results and sharing the joy with my teammates by working for them. It was really a great year.
My win in the Tour of Poland was really nice. Even just the experience in the break away was special. I didn't know if I would make it and just to cross the line, I was exhausted. But more importantly, there was such joy in all of that... and it just started! Everything went so fast. There was immediately interviews, press conference, the podium, some more interviews, and when I got back to the car my phone was full of messages!
We had a two hour and a half transfer, it took me the whole way to answer all the messages and calling. ;-) That was really an amazing experience, something I will never forget!
To be able to share the joy with my friends and family, that is something special.
The four days in the lead jersey I was a bit afraid but then I started to enjoy it, so that was nice!
When I came home it gave me so much more motivation for training for the next season.
It was my dream to be a professional rider, to be in a team like this. The best team in the world.
I couldn't believe I achieved it. It was even bigger than I dreamed about.
It's such a good experience and I enjoy it a lot. I like all the aspects: Racing in one jersey with the big stars of cycling, learning from them and helping them,
traveling and racing in different parts of the world... I realize I'm blessed!
I'm really looking forward to the Ardennes classics. I did some of the Under-23 versions.
I like those kind of races, it suits me well and I hope I will help Michal Kwiatowski win them!
I want to be good in this part of the season, be helpful there.
If I could chose one race that I would really like to win... World Championships.
That is not the plan for this year so far, but I can say this is my goal - to be World Champion one day.
For this year I hope I still progress and that my condition will be even better than last year.
I'll be helpful to my teammates and if I get some opportunities I'll go for it.
Hoping to repeat my win from last year and even more of course!
The 2014 season was yet another good year for the team. We once again broke the 60-win mark on the road, but even better, we surpassed the previous year totals with 64 road victories. On top of this, we won three track races and the Cyclocross World Championship. We set the bar even higher for 2015 with success in three different disciplines, and we were again the winningest team of the UCI WorldTour.
I am a passionate collector of wine. I have to say this season was like adding another "Grand Cru" to the collection.
We really hope that in 2015 — which starts today — can be another important year for the team. In July of last year we secured the future of the team thanks to the commitment of our sponsors until 2017. We're really motivated to grow our prestige even more, and help our sponsor spread and share their brands all around the world.
Concerning the team, we have 27 riders coming from 12 nations. We have a great mixture of experienced and young riders that work really well together.
Beside the great veteran riders, such as Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, Rigoberto Uran, Niki Terpstra, and Tony Martin, we have already we have a group of riders who are growing up really well. Our shining example is Michal Kwiatkowski who is World Champion at a young age, but still has much to learn. Other examples are Petr Vakoc and Julian Alaphilippe, who helped us in having a great year.
Last year we had bad luck with Tom, who couldn't be 100 percent at the Classics, and Cavendish who crashed out of Le Tour. But our riders overcame adversity with a good team spirit, and they kept winning races.
We really hope in 2015, with a little more luck, that we can reach other prestigious goals and continue to be among the best in the World, just as we have been in the last years.
The most important thing, as always, is to ride and perform at the top and have no regrets at the end of the year. I am sure everyone will work hard and be committed to the team. I am looking forward to the next "Grand Cru."
We appreciate the impressive support of our fans around the world. We feel we have a lot of people who follow us and are connected with us and our way. Our fan base grows day-by-day. For us this is another thing that makes us happy and motivated to reach our goals. We know it's not just for us and our sponsors, but our loyal supporters who have been there for years. There is a tradition we all want to honor, for ourselves and for those that cheer for Etixx – Quick-Step.
I wish to everyone a great 2015, full of great triumphs!